GIOVANNI Trapattoni will wait until James McCarthy proves his fitness for Noel King's under-21s before deciding whether to call him to the senior squad for the trip to Moscow.
McCarthy's exile to the under-21s represents a clear snub to the Wigan midfielder at a time when Trapattoni is painfully short on midfield options.
However, McCarthy, who has not been drawn into a war of words with the Ireland boss, was quick to avoid any further problems when he gave an explanation for his most recent no-show for the friendly against Croatia.
“I was injured in the last game of the Premier League season and that was why I didn't come across. Things may have been said in the paper but quotes can be taken out of context, too. I've no issue with anyone. I love playing for Ireland,” he said.
“And I'm happy to be here with the under-21s. I want to win as many caps as I can for the under-21s and seniors. It is my ambition to do as well as I can.”
Trapattoni, meanwhile, managed to complicate the issue even further when he claimed that Conor Clifford might be promoted to the senior squad as midfield cover but then suggested that if McCarthy comes through Ireland's U21 European championship qualifying opener, he would be on the plane for Moscow.
“McCarthy? He was injured the last time and we don't need uncertainties for this game,” claimed Trap.
“He didn't play yesterday (Sunday). We will see him for the under-21s. He must play for us to be sure.
“We have Kevin Foley, (Glenn) Whelan, (Keith) Andrews and there is Clifford in the under-21s. We can also decide whether McCarthy can come with us to Moscow. He is on standby.”
The Ireland boss set the theme for the week by demanding complete professionalism from his players |and revealed a meeting before the Croatia friendly to clear up the |matter of after-hours drinking.
“I trusted my players but when I read about this once, twice or three times in newspapers, I said to myself, ‘be careful here'. I never had this in Italy or Germany,” said Trapattoni.
“Before the Croatia game, I told the players how important it is to grow our personality and professionalism because of two or three situations when the players were drinking beer or were in the pub.
“I told the players to ask me and |I will allow them to go out and at 11 o'clock they come back.
“We can look each other in the eye and speak openly, we don't need any secrets. They don't need to hide and go behind my back.
“I told them that I didn't know if these newspapers were true and I asked them. There was silence.
“We have a great responsibility for these players. They are kids, they don't think about the eventualities,” he said. If they are on the street and a car hits them, what then?”
Richard Dunne, Darren O'Dea and Sean St Ledger all sat out training yesterday to rest minor knocks.