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Losing the plot

GIOVANNI Trapattoni looks set to alienate in-form players James McClean and Shane Long as Ireland's World Cup qualifying campaign kicks off against Kazakhstan on Friday.

Trapattoni (right) has already shown an unwillingness to trust the prodigious talent of McClean by pleading with the retired Damien Duff to return for the Germany game.

"I said 'Damien, never say never'. We can wait after these games and maybe before the Germany game, I said 'we can speak again'," claimed Trapattoni.

Shane Long, who terrorised the Liverpool back four a fortnight ago and has already bagged three goals this season, finds himself vying to be fourth-choice striker with Kevin Doyle.

Trap has indicated that Jonathan Walters will partner Robbie Keane up front with Simon Cox in a wide role while Long and Doyle battle for a second half cameo.

"Walters is a strong player physically. I will ask him to spend all of his energy up front and we will have the other opportunity of the fast Long and also Doyle," he added.

Long became embroiled in a spat with Trap in Belgrade last month after the Tipperary man refuted Trap's contention that he wasn't fit for the game, leading the Italian to brandish him a 'bambino'.

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