Sunday 18 February 2018

10 key questions from Trapattoni's squad

Not particularly. Once James McCarthy made the understandable decision to miss out due to family reasons, Trapattoni was spared from making a big call. He says that McCarthy would have been in the squad, so the reality is that either James McClean, Darron Gibson and Keith Fahey were the lucky ones. Paul Green was in the shake-up -- and Trapattoni had suggested in February he was high up the queue -- but the manager's increasing trust in Fahey sealed Green's fate.


A year ago, he was the most exciting young Irish player in the Premier League, but the lack of outrage at his exclusion tells its own story. Unfortunately, it's been a poor campaign for the Donegal man, who impressed Trapattoni in Liege last June but got this season off to a bad start by picking up an injury in August ahead of the friendly with Croatia. That checked his Irish momentum. Still, he'll be back.

Any hard luck stories?

The feeling that Trapattoni picked the right squad is based on the options that were genuinely in contention. Several decent players simply weren't in the equation. For a variety of reasons, Ciaran Clark, Marc Wilson and Wes Hoolahan weren't a part of the process. It's entirely likely that a different manager would have them in his travelling party.

Why did he name the squad so early?

The final list doesn't have to be submitted with UEFA until May 29, but Trapattoni wanted to avoid a situation where he would bring 27 players in for the Bosnia match and then send four home at the last minute. He tried this in the past and found that the humiliation for the players in question had a negative impact on the group as a whole.

How late can he call up someone due to injury?

Ten years ago, when Roy Keane departed Saipan, Mick McCarthy was unable to draft in Colin Healy because it happened too late. UEFA have different rules in place for this summer. Trapattoni can bring in a replacement up until the showdown with Croatia on June 10 should a player suffer a set-back in training.

Will the friendlies be relevant?

Yes. Trapattoni might have his first XI for the Croatia game in mind already, yet he is prone to changing it if he feels that someone is below par. He proved that last September by selecting Shane Long ahead of Kevin Doyle for the Slovakian encounter. That position could potentially be up for grabs.

Why take five strikers?

The quintet of Keane, Doyle, Long, Cox and Walters all deserved their place after their contribution to the qualification effort. Other managers might have gone for one less, but Trapattoni qualified his decision by pointing out that Walters, Long and Cox can also offer cover in the wide department in an emergency.

Is every position covered?

The exception is probably left-back, where Stephen Ward can travel in the certainty that he will play. John O'Shea and Stephen Kelly can shift across if something bad happens to the Wolves man, but it wouldn't be their favourite position.

Can James McClean make an impact?

There's every chance that the Derry lad could get a taste of the action if he impresses in the warm-up. Last week's set-piece goal for Sunderland demonstrated his growing confidence, and Trapattoni -- who is obsessed with that kind of detail -- will be tempted to throw him off the bench, although Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady are firmly in pole position to start the opener.

What happens next?

The Championship players -- a small crew -- report for duty in a fortnight's time. The Premier League players arrive later to begin the build-up to the clash with Bosnia in Dublin on May 26. Then it's a week in Italy and a friendly with Hungary in Budapest before arrival in Poland on June 4.

Irish Independent

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