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Trap eyeing his shot at redemption


Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni. Picture: Oliver McVeigh/SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni. Picture: Oliver McVeigh/SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni. Picture: Oliver McVeigh/SPORTSFILE

IT SAYS a lot about Ireland's final fixture in a four-game run that Vicente del Bosque managed to get through his entire pre-match press conference without mentioning Spain's opposition once.

Fodder we were in Gdansk and something similar in Yankee Stadium tonight when Giovanni Trapattoni sends out a patched-up team, ostensibly to extract some kind of vengeance for a humiliation suffered a year ago but in reality to provide a limbering-up session to help Del Bosque prepare Spain for the Confederations Cup.

Trapattoni, as always, sees the fixture as a chance for 'the young' to add some quality game time to their memory bank, hopefully to be cashed in at some date in the future.

But the sense that the season ended last Friday evening at the Aviva is hard to avoid and the possibility that Spain might hand out another caning very real.

Still, Trapattoni has high hopes for his young team and believes that there has been significant movement since June last year, so much so that he would like to do Euro 2012 all over again.

"I would like to repeat these games now. Until that moment, we had great trust and confidence and the team achieved the qualification very well. My disappointment was not the results but I could not understand why this team always play well until the Euro.

"There was a heavyweight. Only Robbie (Keane), Richard Dunne, Damien (Duff) and Shay Given had this experience of this situation. It was not fear but shyness. We did our jobs, we did what we could do."



It's not the first time Trapattoni has placed responsibility for the debacle in Poland firmly on the shoulders of the players but at this point, there is nothing to be gained from rehashing old arguments.

"When we started this campaign we brought new energy. I think if we could repeat our Euro without this great heavy weight on our shoulders, without one or two silly mistakes, we can repeat these games and not suffer against Spain.

"The young can play against the famous players and grow their grow their experience and grow their confidence.

"This is a great opportunity. It will be important to play with a balance but we must show our personality. It will be a good exam, like England."

Trapattoni has picked Séamus Coleman on the right side of midfield and has a specific job in mind for the Everton defender.

"I know Spain and I they know what they are, a little bit strong," he said with astonishing understatement.

"How it is possible to have players who will attack them? They will have possession and one-against-one, we will have problems so we need two against one, particularly in this position."

Like James McCarthy and the rapidly emerging Jeff Hendrick, Trapattoni is predicting a big future and further improvement in the months and years ahead.

"As he (Coleman) plays many, many game, the more he can improve, I don't ask him what he does in training in his club but I make an exercise for him particularly. He can improve and in his club do more. The more he exercises, the more he will improve."

Trapattoni was asked to rate Spain against the all-time great international teams but he was slow to crown them as the best ever.

"In life, we always say it was better 20 years ago. A Ferrari went at 200kmph and now it goes at 300kmph. Life changes and football changes. Systems change and players change. It is hard to make a comparison."



Del Bosque's priority for this and the 2-1 win over Haiti in Miami on Saturday is to assess the form and fitness of his goalkeepers.

"We are using these matches to look at the three goalkeepers. All three are in good form although there is one with less playing time lately than the others. To me Iker Casillas is fine.

"Our goal is to have Victor Valdes play tomorrow and by then to have all 23 players see action in these games," he said.

"Against Haiti we used two strikers – (Fernando) Torres and (Roberto) Soldado. For this game we are going to use (David) Villa up front."

With Xabi Alonso out of the picture, Del Bosque added: "Xabi is incredibly important to us. We have used Sergio Busquets and Xabi as a duo for most of our games. They also allow us to be either defensive or more offensive. Both players can defend, generate and also get forward. They are a duo that has fit in well within the squad.

"But we have other options. We have team that can either be more offensive or more defensive based on what we choose. Overall we will likely follow the same formula that we used against Haiti, in particular with Javi Martinez in the middle and Santi Cazorla as an attacker. It's a formula that we believe in."

Ireland: Forde; McShane, St Ledger, O'Dea, Kelly; Coleman, Hendrick, McCarthy, A. Keogh; Keane, Sammon.

Spain (probable): Valdes; Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Martinez, Busquets; Cazorla, Xavi, Iniesta; Villa.