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Tardelli keeps his Trap shut

POOR Marco Tardelli. He's not entirely comfortable sitting in the middle chair. Much happier in the background when Giovanni Trapattoni does his thing for the cameras and makes the shutters whir.

Ferrycarrig Park. We're in Mick Wallace's manor for the squad announcement for the Euro 2012 opener against Armenia in a few weeks, part of the the FAI's annual flash, bang, wallop festival of football, now a big part of the association's AGM.

But the elephant in the room is missing. Trap is otherwise preoccupied with convalescence and good luck to him, leaving Tardelli in the spotlight again.

He's a bashful kind of chap, is Marco, and he takes each question about the Irish squad with a tweezers, holds it in front of him and then snips off the edges before returning an answer.

Nothing strays from dogma and Marco says nothing that will give Trapattoni any cause for alarm.

Top news of the day was Shay Given's odd choice of return flight from Timosoara to Munich where he disembarked, telling Manchester City fans that he was heading off for some treatment on an old shoulder injury.

Taken at face value, that's a scary thought for Irish fans, but one Tardelli hadn't heard anything about it.

"My doctor Alan Byrne hasn't told me anything about that," said Tardelli shrugging his shoulders.

Tardelli continues to urge caution where Given is concerned, again suggesting that he should sit things out at City despite the clear preference shown by Roberto Mancini for Joe Hart.

No matter what the reason; be it Mancini folding to pressure to play Hart from Fabio Capello and the English FA or a genuine belief that he had to give the kid a try or he too would head for the hills, Tardelli believes that Given should not make any rash moves when his Ireland place is clearly safe.

"After the game against Argentina, I knew that Shay had no problem with his shoulder. He came back and played like the Shay Given we all know," he said.

"He should stay calm. I'm sure he will find a good team or maybe go back and find space in his current team. It's not a big problem for us."

Tardelli's next thorny subject was the one which has caused more yawns among Irish fans than any other over the last few years -- Stephen Ireland.

The boy wonder has adopted Villa Park as his own and already feels part of the furniture. He also dropped a few come hither hints about playing for his country again. Yawn.

"We never closed the door for Stephen Ireland and we are very happy if he wants to speak with us," said Tardelli. "It would be good for the team, good for the country."

What if Ireland declared himself available to play? Would he be in with a shout for Armenia?

"Not for this squad. This is too important a game but after this match it is possible." Ireland has a curious impact on ordinary mortals and the mere hint of a return prompted questions about a change in the way Ireland might play if the Prodigal returns.

Given the fact that Trapattoni has spent two and a half years hammering home his system so that players function without thinking too hard, it was no surprise that Tardelli knocked any such fanciful notions on the head.

"It's better to wait and see if he comes back or not first," he said with a smile. "We have a good balance with this team. That is Giovanni's opinion.

"I think we need to give all players a chance. He's a clever player and if he decided to come back, he would be like any other player in the squad."

Tardelli is not surprised with Mancini's decision to move Ireland on, just as much as he sees the football logic behind the decision to favour Hart over Given.

"Mancini decided to build a new team. The manager changes the team and sometimes big players leave.

"Stephen Ireland can be a very good player for Aston Villa, he can play very well there. Villa are a good team. Plus he plays with Richard Dunne and perhaps he could speak with him."

No doubt, Dunne is delighted.

Tardelli was also asked about Aiden McGeady's decision to take the high road to Moscow and a life of luxury, forest fires and extreme weather.

"It's a good move for him because he gets the chance to play different football, in different weather and hear a different language. Maybe these things are important to build his character which is better for us.

"It's a gamble and also for the coach but if the player is very strong -- anywhere he goes, he will be fine. He needed to find new challenges in another league."

The squad for the Armenia/Andorra games shows no huge surprises though there were a few eyebrows raised at the presence of Keith Treacy in the squad and the fact that there was no place for James McCarthy who continues with the Under 21s for the foreseeable future.

Veteran Kevin Kilbane holds his place and Tardelli is delighted to have him.

"I spoke to him, I called him one month ago and asked him if he wanted to come with us again because we need him for his experience," said Tardelli. "Sometimes, it's possible he will play, sometimes not.

"Kevin is a very good fella for us, important for me and Giovanni. He can help the young players. His story is not finished, there's still room for him."

Republic of Ireland squad (to face Armenia on September 3 and Andorra on September 7 in the opening Group B European Championship qualifiers): Given (Manchester City), Westwood (Coventry), Murphy (Scunthorpe); O'Shea (Manchester United), Dunne (Aston Villa), St Ledger (Preston), Cunningham (Manchester City), Foley (Wolves), Kelly (Fulham), McShane (Hull), O'Dea (Ipswich); Kilbane (Hull), Andrews (Blackburn), Whelan (Stoke), Gibson (Manchester United), Green (Derby), Lawrence (Stoke), McGeady (Spartak Moscow), Keogh (Wolves), Duff (Fulham), Fahey (Birmingham), Treacy (Preston); Keane (Tottenham), Doyle (Wolves), Long (Reading).


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