Trap drops Pole axe but future can still be green

Aidan Fitzmaurice

FOR those on the list, it's the start of one of the biggest stages of their footballing careers.

But for the ones who didn't get the nod for Giovanni Trapattoni's 23-man squad for the Euro 2012 finals, and also failed to earn a spot on the five-strong standby list, yesterday's squad announcement from the Ireland boss was a sign that their days as international footballers are over.

Kevin Kilbane and Liam Lawrence both played in the early stages of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, but it seems that their Ireland days are now in the past, Kilbane of course still sidelined with an injury. Same with Caleb Folan, Daryl Murphy and Damien Delaney, who have all been capped by Trapattoni but who now appear to have come to a dead end internationally-speaking.


A batch of players who did play under Trapattoni, but who have also had run-ins with the Ireland boss for reasons which have not always been clear, also appear to be sidelined.

The fact that Marc Wilson didn't even make the standby list for the finals, even though he's been practically an ever-present for Stoke this season and is a very interesting option to have for the left-back slot, underlines just how far down the pecking order he is, though communication by the Irish management appears to have improved, as Trapattoni did make contact with Wilson yesterday ahead of the squad announcement to let the player know that he wasn't in.

Meanwhile, other players, who have unfairly been depicted as bad boys by the Irish management, are also about to spend a long period out in the cold, as it's hard to see Wilson, Keith Treacy, Anthony Stokes or Leon Best being picked in the near future.

West Ham could well be playing in the Premier League next season, but since he engaged in a public spat with Trapattoni, it's hard to see Joey O'Brien -- who looked so impressive in the early days of the Steve Staunton reign -- adding to his tally of senior caps.


Remember the fuss of 18 months ago when Trapattoni suggested that he'd look more closely at the granny rule and it was predicted that a rampaging horde of Anglos, led by Mark Noble, Jamie O'Hara and Jermaine Pennant, were about to jump on the bandwagon? We're still waiting for that one.

Ones who could emerge from the fringes after the finals include Ciaran Clark, Shane Duffy, Anthony Pilkington and Reading's Alex Pearce.

We can hardly expect a string of retirements after the finals in the summer -- only eight of the squad are over 30 -- but some could decide to call time on their Ireland careers. That could free up some slots, so the challenge is for the next generation to force their way through.

The current Irish U21 squad has a few players with some real potential -- Leeds man Aidan White has caught the eye, Dundee United's Gavin Gunning is a classy defender and Manchester United prospect Robbie Brady has shown during his spell on loan to Hull City that he has something about him.

Beneath that you have the bulk of the U19 squad which reached the semi-finals of the European Championships last summer and also hope to qualify for this year's tournament.

Players from that group like John Egan (Sunderland), Samir Carruthers (Aston Villa) and Anthony Forde (Wolves) have had a taste of first-team action this season, but will need to make serious progress next term.