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Shunned stars expose Trap

ON A HAPPY NIGHT for Marc Wilson in Torshavn, the Stoke City man had a lot to smile about.

But he probably still found time to smile at the idea of being called a "young player" by everyone, especially Giovanni Trapattoni. Wilson, lest we forget, is 25 years old, he was playing Premier League and European football as late as four years ago and has been a regular in England's top flight for successive seasons.

The notion that Wilson is a young gun, ignored by everyone else in the football world who has just now been brilliantly scouted out by the canny eye of Trapattoni, is laughable, and underlines all of the problems within the Ireland set-up that remain in place, in spite of the result in Torshavn.

And if Trapattoni is to remain in charge, the performance of players like Wilson, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy last night beg the question: why they have been so ignored for so long by this manager?

Only a few months ago, Trapattoni was telling us that Wilson had been left out of the squad over a disciplinary matter, only to subsequently realise that the player who had misbehaved while on international duty was not Wilson but someone else.


So Wilson is not a naughty boy but neither is he the Messiah -- to paraphrase the Life Of Brian -- as the Stoke man did well on his first competitive start, scoring one goal and making another, though Stephen Ward can feel hard done by after losing his place despite the fact that the Wolves man was one of our better players in the German debacle.

But Wilson needing to have over 100 Premier League and European appearances under his belt before he was given his competitive debut is simply astonishing.

The FAI will decide if the 73-year-old will get to remain in charge as the Irish sporting public holds its breath for the titanic struggle between Ireland and Greece in a half-empty Lansdowne Road stadium next month


But if there are any lessons from all the misery which has come Ireland's way this year, it's that the manager has to do -- whether that's under order from his employers or just because it's the right thing to do -- is completely rethink and overhaul his approach and scouting methods.

One other sideline emerged from last night's action in the World Cup as Tyrone man Niall McGinn ruined Cristiano Ronaldo's big night in Porto by scoring the goal which gave Northern Ireland a 1-0 lead. The same Niall McGinn who used to play for Derry City.

Trap's attitude to football in Ireland was evident from the start: in December 2008, the year he was appointed manager of our national team, he came to Dublin to attend the FAI staff Christmas party, but did not bother coming to Dublin to see the FAI Cup final a few weeks earlier, the same FAI Cup final in which four senior internationals (including McGinn) played.

In any other country that snub would not have been tolerated but in FAI-land things go on without even a raised eyebrow.

That's not to say that, in hindsight, Trap should have 'signed up' McGinn to play for the Republic ahead of Northern Ireland, but Trap should have been, and should still be, on the ground and attending matches to see if players like McGinn are worth a second look.

The addition of Conor Clifford to the senior squad for the last two games points to everything that's wrong with the current set-up. Clifford is a promising player who was undoubtedly proud to be on the bench for Ireland against Germany and the Faroes, and we would love to see the Dubliner succeed at Chelsea and deliver on his promise.

But Clifford, who struggled during his last loan spell in League One, was surpisingly called in to the seniors by the current management despite the fact that a batch of Irishmen, who are playing regularly at club level such as Gary Dicker, Chris McCann, Owen Garvan, Jeff Hendrick and even the now-discarded Wes Hoolahan, had more of a case for inclusion.

Hendrick is 20, is from Dublin and plays for Derby County (it's in the English midlands, Giovanni) and is likely to be an Ireland captain some day but the current management have no idea what he looks like.

If Trap can change, open his eyes and broaden his mind, then maybe things could be saved. If not, we're just in for more pain until his employers put us out of our misery.