Fit Shay Given eases fears and takes full part in lively training
SHAY Given delivered a significant boost to Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of Sunday's Euro 2012 showdown with Croatia by taking a full part in training today.
The Donegal man has been sitting out the strenuous part of preparations since Monday's friendly game in Hungary, but he was present and correct for Ireland's final training session at the Municipal Stadium in Gdynia before they travel to Poznan tomorrow.
He was active in a lively 11 v 11 match, diving to make a number of saves that will have delighted the watching management team.
“I have no doubt that he can play,” said a satisfied Trapattoni, “When the whole squad is available, we have very good options.”
The Italian's favoured starting XI wore orange bibs in training, with Kevin Doyle up front alongside Robbie Keane. Midfielder Glenn Whelan picked up a slight knock towards the end of the session, but Trapattoni said there was no problem with the Stoke midfielder.
Ireland's manager is conscious that the Croatians are the favourites going into the crunch encounter, yet he drew on examples from his past to claim that those odds can make no difference.
“They are above us in the rankings, sure,” he said, “But we played them in a friendly game last August and it was a draw. Many of their players play in England, and Germany, and our team know our opponents. I played against many great players, the big,big stars, and my team won the game. And I won the one-on-one battle. That can be a great stimulus for our players.
Trapattoni also acknowledged the large travelling support who are arriving in Poland, and said he reminded the players before training of their duty to those hordes.
“I told them they must be proud about our country and our people, because they've made a big sacrifice to make this trip. The players know this. Our country waits. Our supporters wait. It's important we guarantee them total and complete commitment.”
Meanwhile, there was also good news for Croatia boss Slaven Bilic, who learned that key defender Vedran Corluka did not sustain a serious hamstring injury in training during the week. The Spurs man will be available for the Group C showdown.
*Don't miss tomorrow's print edition of the Irish Independent for the latest from the Irish camp