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Trap votes McClean in

WITH an expressive elevation of his very mobile eyebrows, Giovanni Trapattoni let the cat out of the bag. James McClean is a lucky player and he likes lucky players. He's on the plane.

Trap's face hair told a story, putting a sharp accent on an expression which was almost giddy when he spoke about McClean's stunning thunderbolt free-kick for Sunderland on Saturday.

Later, he was able to say that McClean was "90to 99 per cent" certain of travelling to Poland "for a reason".

In Trapattoni's language, that's as close to an announcement that someone who should be on the plane will not be on the plane; thus freeing up a spot into which McClean will neatly slot.

Happy day. McClean's fantastic place kick showed another as yet unheralded quality and there are no two ways about it, he has to be in the squad. It would be absolutely ridiculous if he is not.


Keith Fahey is the name on most lips as the unfortunate who is nursing an injury which is serious enough to warrant some kind of urgent remedial action and it would be a great pity if it is true.

Those who watch Birmingham say that Fahey has been in rare form, perhaps the best of his career and he brings a very welcome alternative in midfield to Trapattoni's tried and trusted.

Darron Gibson appears to be struggling from injury to injury and maybe it was significant that Trapattoni bracketed the Everton man with McClean, James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman as those on the edge of selection.

With just a week to go to the official squad announcement, the time is short for us to wallow in the ever engaging practice of backseat squad selection.

Naturally enough, McClean is the big issue. "There is good news about him, McClean has a little bit of luck. He is a lucky player. Lucky players!"

"He might not play well but he scores. Managers think about these lucky players, but I don't think it is about luck, he wants to make the squad."

Trapattoni will deliver the fateful news to the players who do and don't make the squad before next Monday's announcement.

"I will contact the players on the standby list before I announce the squad. I'm very, very sorry but our duty is to choose. My heart will be heavy."

Trapattoni has clearly left nothing to chance in terms of preparation and support for the squad on the road but he ventured into dangerous territory when someone asked him about Saipan and the fact that the Irish team hotel in Sopot seems to be no more than a short stagger away from some very bright neon.

In fact, he seemed to administer a sharp slap to Roy Keane when he judged any talk about about bad preparation as "an excuse".

"Football is football and we should not look for stupid excuses," said Trapattoni. "There are always two sides to the story. It's about how you want to prepare, how we want a great opportunity. Ireland has waited 18 years for this moment so we must not look for any excuses."