Dunne primed to face Faroes after 'showing he is well'
THE shape of Giovanni Trapattoni's team for Friday's World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands should become clearer this morning, provided that the intended protagonists all come back from their day off in good order.
Trapattoni, a notorious disciplinarian, let the players off the leash after Sunday's friendly drubbing of Georgia, setting them free after the game until meeting up for dinner at the team hotel at 7.30 last night.
He said there was no curfew imposed, which gave players the freedom to have a couple of drinks and catch up with family. However, the Italian has always stressed the need for his squad to be responsible and joked that he would look for signs of excess before providing clarity on his plans for the Faroes encounter.
"I didn't see them yet today," said Trapattoni, speaking at 2.0 on a sunny Bank Holiday in Malahide.
"I'm not a magician, I can't see where they all are. Maybe two or three come back after the rest, the day after the off day, with problem. Drink beer. Go with wife. Happen accident. I hope not. I couldn't say to you now 100pc, my team for Friday.
"Yes, 90pc I know what I am thinking."
Trapattoni's intensive build-up for Euro 2012 drew some grumbles from the group, with a request put in for a day off upon their arrival in Poland after intensive training camps in Dublin, Italy and then a trip to take on Hungary in Budapest following on from the end of a long season in England.
This 17-day gathering is a short stretch in comparison, but management decided to give players some respite.
"They needed a break from the same faces," Trapatoni continued. "After five days, and the game against England, they maybe needed to lose some tension, so having one day off was important. Tomorrow, they will be ready again."
Richard Dunne and Wes Hoolahan are primed to benefit from the Georgia stroll, with the manager stating they are '90pc' certain to start the Faroes encounter.
Trapattoni does not believe there is a risk element involved in deploying Dunne in a competitive game so soon after his return from a long lay-off.
"He showed us he is well in the 25 minutes," said the 74-year-old. "He made contact with the opponent, which was important.
"I clarified with him to pay attention, to be careful because you don't have a club in this moment. There can be no doubts about this.
"But he gave us confidence and he has experience because he has played many, many games."
His selection will give Trapattoni a decision to make at centre-half, with one of John O'Shea or Sean St Ledger set to lose out. Both were rested on Sunday, but there are no concerns about their availability for Friday.
O'Shea has operated at full-back in the past, yet Trapattoni is definitely sticking with Seamus Coleman and Marc Wilson in that department, stressing that they give the team '30pc more' of an attacking dimension, which is significant in a game where Ireland must improve their goal difference.
Austria, who host Sweden in Vienna on Friday, have a differential of plus nine after drubbing the Faroes. Ireland are stuck on minus one on account of the dismal 6-1 defeat to Germany.
With the Faroes expected to position 10 men behind the ball, Hoolahan can function as a central midfielder, next to Glenn Whelan in the absence of the suspended James McCarthy, with his defensive aptitude unlikely to be severely tested.
Jon Walters should feature on the wing to provide physical strength, although that would leave Aiden McGeady, James McClean and Simon Cox fighting for one spot.
Alternatively, Cox and Walters could come into consideration as a strike partner for Robbie Keane, with Conor Sammon a part of this discussion. Significantly, the latter pair were teamed up for the final stages of the Georgia victory.
Jeff Hendrick played his part then too and is sure to feature at some stage.
"Before, people were asking 'Who is Hendrick?'" said Trapattoni. "I think he can be like McCarthy for us, he can grow because he has physical strength and a good personality. Maybe he is a little bit shy but he is also a strong midfielder."
The 21-year-old's Derby colleague Richard Keogh was also praised, but Dunne's recovery may restrict the centre-half's chances of gaining significant education from the rest of this gathering.