Doyle playing 'like someone in a desert' for Wolves says Trap
THE dispute between Giovanni Trapattoni and Mick McCarthy over the fitness of Kevin Doyle continues to drag along, with the Irish manager yesterday denying that he used it as an excuse to drop the Wolves striker for last month's Euro 2012 qualifier with Slovakia.
Trapattoni preferred Shane Long for that fixture, but the call was rendered irrelevant when the Tipp native was struck down with a calf problem.
The Italian said he was concerned about Doyle's fitness after his return from a medial ligament injury, but McCarthy dismissed any suggestion that the Wexford native was short of 100pc and had been rushed back to action by his Premier League employers.
Last week, the former Ireland boss went further and indicated that Trapattoni was not being fully honest about his reason for initially selecting Long.
"I never look for excuses," Trapattoni responded. "The problem is that he was out for two months. And you saw Doyle in the last game. He was not fit, not in condition. He (McCarthy) used Doyle because he has only Doyle.
"He stays alone up front a lot for his club. I see him and he is like somebody in a desert."
Trapattoni watched Wolves lose to Newcastle last Saturday and is now convinced that the frontman is fully recovered from the effects of his lay-off.
With Long in goal-scoring form for West Brom, the manager refused to be drawn on the identity of Robbie Keane's strike partner for Friday's encounter in Andorra.
While his midfield is likely to remain unchanged, the key decision he faces is in the defensive department where minor concern exists over the well-being of John O'Shea.
Richard Dunne's suspension for the Andorra clash means there is a vacancy in the heart of the back four. Sean St Ledger will play, so it's a question of whether Trapattoni selects Darren O'Dea or O'Shea as his partner.
Trapattoni feels O'Shea's experience will be vital, so he will replace Stephen Kelly at right-back if the St Ledger/O'Dea partnership gets the nod.
After the loss of Kevin Kilbane, Hull's Paul McShane will be called up as defensive cover after an injury absence provided he comes through a reserve match with his club this afternoon.
Stoke frontman Jon Walters is carrying an ankle problem, but the Irish doctors believe that an injection would get him through the game if required.
Walters was recalled to the squad for this match, while Newcastle's Leon Best missed out despite an impressive run with the Geordies.
Trapattoni elaborated on Best's exclusion and, while stopping short of a full critique, he made clear his opinion that the player needs to work harder for his team.
"Leon knows the reason," he said, "I don't forget him, but he knows why I need the other attitude. Yes, it's possible to score a goal. The goalkeeper gives the ball. But all the team must work. Doyle, Keane, McGeady, Duff, they work for the team. Best stays up front. We also have Walters who can score goals.
"Leon knows why he is missing. Keith Treacy is also missing. The players understand why and I say it to them -- not in the newspapers."
From there, Trapattoni launched into a lengthy discourse about the merits of knuckling down when you're not in possession. He referenced Juventus' 1977 UEFA Cup win over Athletic Bilbao, when his team got 11 men behind the ball for the last half an hour and held on to secure the trophy. His strikers defended from the front.
Then, he moved on to Ireland's 1994 World Cup squad which was packed with performers from top English clubs. The basic thrust of his point was that, with the current crop plying their trade at less salubrious locations, they would have to dig in even more to compensate for it.
"And before football was slower," he continued, "Now, it's like Formula One."
Ireland will be instructed to start with a high tempo on Friday night, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that their humble hosts run out of petrol.
After a light session yesterday, preparations will step up a gear this morning.