Sunday 8 December 2019

‘I’d be an idiot to let Given play ...and he’s an idiot to want to’ -- Trapattoni

Shay Given
Shay Given
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

ANOTHER day of Giovanni Trapattoni word play. But while Ireland's manager temporarily got his German and English mixed up, there was no grey area when it came to the story of the day.

The Italian is dealing with a host of niggling injury problems going into Saturday's friendly with Bosnia at the Aviva Stadium, and the situation with Shay Given is giving him particular concern.

Ireland's number one damaged his knee in training on Monday, as revealed in yesterday's Irish Independent. The 36-year-old wants to play in the farewell to the Irish fans before departing for the training camp in Italy on Sunday, but the manager is determined to have the final say. He believes it would be extremely stupid to take a chance.

"I am idiot," he declared. "He is idiot and I am idiot also (if he plays and gets injured). Why run this risk? It's serious."

He turns to charades to illustrate his big worry, mimicking a goalkeeper launching a long clearance into the sky. Kicking is the concern. "The goalkeeper must shoot the ball," he explained.

With back-up options Keiren Westwood and David Forde spending the concluding stages of their club campaigns on the substitutes' bench, the prospect of entering Euro 2012 without Given is frightening.


So, the stakes are high, and it would be a huge surprise if Trapattoni, the arch-pragmatist, gambled on what is a meaningless game for the Donegal man. He has nothing to prove.

"I will speak with him," he explained. "He says he wishes to play, but I am responsible. It's a friendly game. He is sure he can play, but also with the doctor, I said: 'Be careful' because he can also play in Hungary (on June 4)."

Trapattoni is in a similar situation with a clutch of other players. Given will be joined on the sidelines today by John O'Shea and Richard Dunne. The latter is troubled by a micro-tear in his lower abdominal area, but the medics are sure he will be fine.

O'Shea continues to recover from an ankle issue and could be rested for the Bosnia fixture. Robbie Keane (hamstring), Shane Long (back) and Jonathan Walters (knee), who all sat out part of yesterday morning's running session, joined in fully in the afternoon. Keith Andrews worked separately in the gym to strengthen a muscle complaint in the morning, but was also part of proceedings after lunch.

Considering they will be doing a lot of training over the next fortnight, the players in question are desperate to be involved in a match. In explaining this desire, Trapattoni bred confusion by appearing to state with certainty that his walking wounded "will" play.

It was only after a couple more mentions of "will" that it became apparent that the 73-year-old was thinking in German terms. And, in German, 'will' translates to 'want'.

So, after Trapattoni stated that Given "will" play, he was asked to clarify that fact as it appeared to contradict the general tone of his statement.

"I wish he doesn't play," he replied. "He wishes to play. They all wish to play. They must assure me they are 100pc."

Trapattoni has studied videos of Bosnia, and feels they are capable of providing a stern examination. Further reason, he says, to ensure that nobody goes into the game in danger of aggravating an existing problem.

Already, he has chastised O'Shea for going into battle for Sunderland in their final-day Premier League meeting with Manchester United when there was a doubt over his well-being. He's not going to be guilty of the same mistake.

"They all want to play, but we have to decide if it's too near. Bosnia is a strong technical team. They don't play violins for us. Until the last minute, they were winning against France in Paris. It's an important game, an important test for us."

With Keith Fahey and Kevin Foley needing to show they are fit to travel, then the list of those with fitness issues is in danger of exceeding those who are in one piece. Fahey is on course to be fit for Saturday after responding well to treatment of his groin problem; it's touch and go for Foley with regard to his hamstring.

What is clear is that some players will benefit from the uncertainty. If Long and Walters are struggling, then it's likely that Kevin Doyle will get a chance to prove that he has recovered from a poor season. Trapattoni is keen to lift the Wexford man's morale, so it's likely he would have started anyway.

Simon Cox starred after coming off the bench against the Czech Republic in February and even if Keane does make it, the LA Galaxy man will probably be withdrawn during the second half, which should open the door for the West Bromwich Albion fringe performer to build on his fine international displays.

Meanwhile, O'Shea's and Foley's respective woes means that Stephen Kelly should feature at right-back.

The crowd will be baying for James McClean, of course, and Trapattoni again suggested that the Derry winger is set for a lengthy outing, while delivering a strong hint that it would be from the bench. Stephen Hunt shall also have a chance to remind the public of his ability.

"He (McClean) will be one of the first I can look at," said Trapattoni. "I can decide on one half with Duff and one half with McGeady or maybe start with the senior players and put him on to the pitch for the second half because it's less dangerous."

Already, Trapattoni has enough danger to be dealing with.

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