Euro 2012: Trapattoni defends his decision to leave James McCleam on the bench
GIOVANNI Trapattoni has defended his decision to leave James McClean on the bench in Sunday's opening Euro 2012 defeat to Croatia.
The Irish manager raised eyebrows when he introduced striker Simon Cox on the left wing in preference to the Sunderland starlet when his side fell 3-1 behind in Poznan
Speaking after a light training session back in their Gdynia base, Trapattoni said that it was too early to put such responsibility on the shoulders of the Derry lad.
“You can understand how much more tense a young player can be,” said Trapattoni. “It's important we give them the quiet opportunity. Not when we need their performance, under pressure. It's a heavy weight on his shoulders.”
He added that he opted for Cox because he has played there for his club and also has a predatory instinct. “I ask you, how many goals did Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady score in qualifying?” he said.
Trapattoni tried to put an upbeat spin on his team's performance in Poznan. He watched the DVD of the game again and, while maintaining his initial belief that Croatia were superior, he still feels that his players didn't quite get the rub of the green.
“We have played good enough, but not as well as Croatia,” he said. “Maybe we were missing something. Not concentration. But we were just a little bit tense.”
The 73-year-old must now find a plan for Thursday's showdown with world champions Spain. Defeat will eliminate Ireland.
Trapattoni has no injury concerns, with Richard Dunne sitting out training today with blisters. Reserve midfielder Darron Gibson has a minor knock.
Read Daniel McDonnell’s full report in tomorrow’s Irish Independent