Body blow for Trap as Dunne set to miss key Euro clash
GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI has received another body blow ahead of the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifier with Macedonia after learning that Richard Dunne is likely to miss out on the March 26 showdown.
Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier revealed yesterday morning that the Dubliner had suffered a shoulder injury in the midweek FA Cup defeat to Manchester City and was facing up to a month on the sidelines.
The only positive for the Frenchman is that the international window, which also includes a friendly fixture for Ireland against Uruguay, lessens the impact of the injury to the club.
"Unfortunately, we're going to lose Richard Dunne for three to four weeks with a shoulder problem," he said. "The good thing is, we haven't got many games during that period."
A three-week timeline would give Dunne a chance of being involved against Macedonia, but the prognosis does not appear to be too positive.
It's desperate news for Trapattoni, who will have to restructure the spine of his team, with Shay Given already ruled out, and Robbie Keane also engaged in a race against time -- although it's been reported that the Irish skipper is close to a return to proper training. Liam Lawrence and Stephen Hunt are also struggling.
The Irish manager has consistently stated that success in the European qualifiers will likely hinge upon the availability of his senior players, so entering a competitive match without three key lieutenants is uncharted territory.
If Dunne misses out, then the Italian will face a dilemma about the identity of his back four. A likely knock-on effect is that Kevin Kilbane will regain his place at left-full, with Trapattoni sure to be concerned about a lack of experience in the defensive department.
Moving recent recruit Ciaran Clark into the centre of defence -- his preferred role -- alongside Sean St Ledger, would appear to be a relatively straightforward solution.
However, Trapattoni might be reluctant to enter the game without a seasoned performer in the heart of defence, so he could opt to bring John O'Shea into centre-half alongside St Ledger, thus leaving a vacancy at right-full.
In the past, the Irish manager has favoured either Stephen Kelly or Paul McShane as alternative options in that berth, although that duo have endured difficult seasons due to injury problems.
Kevin Foley is a regular at Wolves, but Trapattoni has shied away from throwing him into competitive action, and Marc Wilson has deputised capably in defence for Stoke in recent weeks but has limited international experience; it would be a huge surprise if the Irish boss opted for either him or Seamus Coleman.
Given his run of injury luck, Trapattoni will probably wait until the next two weekends' action pass before formulating a definitive plan.