Fit Dunne central to Irish hopes – Cascarino
'I sometimes look at him and think he's just a little out of shape but I think you will see him come into the new season flying. He could play on for another three years'
THE summer break ends for Giovanni Trapattoni today when he names his squad for next month's friendly in Wales and Tony Cascarino believes that Irish football will be weaker when the 74-year-old eventually departs his position.
However, while Cascarino feels that the Italian deserves credit for gradually evolving his team since the humiliation of Euro 2012, he thinks that 'old-timer' Richard Dunne should still be given a central role for the conclusion of the World Cup campaign.
Dunne signed a contract with QPR earlier this week and is currently on pre-season in Austria with his new club.
The former Ireland striker thinks it's a fine move for the 33-year-old, and reckons that the scare of being without a club could spur him back to life and prolong his career.
"When you've been out that long, you never know if you're going to play again," said Cascarino. "Richard's head would be elsewhere. This is a challenge. He's facing the end of his career and, when you face the end of something, you get fearful. I've been there, I've done that.
"Richard is a real leader, he's a guy who does very little wrong. There are very few centre-halves that don't make mistakes and Richard is one of them and he's a lot quicker than people give him credit for.
"The only time I feel a little bit funny is when I look at Richard and I think, 'your a**e is too big', you've just put on a bit of weight, a bit of timber. I sometimes look at him and think he's just a little out of shape.
"But this is a big challenge for him. You get anxious when you have to start thinking: 'What will I do after football when the huge salaries don't come in anymore?'
"When that happens, you sometimes get a bit extra out of a player. I think you'll see him coming into the new season flying fit and I wouldn't be surprised if he plays on for another three or four years if he does that."
Cascarino believes that Dunne should be central to Trapattoni's plans for the September double-header against Sweden and Austria that will determine Ireland's World Cup chances and, by extension, the Italian's future.
And he's unsure if the FAI will be capable of finding a better manager if they let him go.
"I can't believe how we've come with Ireland to a situation that we can't see Trap (below) has done an amazing job in lots of ways," he continued.
"Now, I know he's had his critics, and I look at last year's campaign at the Euros, which was bad, but I do think there was a lot of reasons. There were injuries in the squad, especially to Shay (Given) which was a massive blow, and I think he's moved us on again.
"I just thought it was very encouraging against England in May. I know it was a friendly and we always lift ourselves against them.
"But, even after that, the performances warranted a lot of praise because last summer at the Euros we were embarrassed and humiliated – we really were.
"The manager was fortunate to survive, but I think since then there's been a big turnaround and he has to be applauded for that.
"It says a lot to me about his character and the way he's gelled the squad back together. There was talk of a new manager, but I think it would have to go disastrously wrong for us to be thinking about a new manager again. I'm not quite sure who is out there."
Cascarino believes that a switch to London will benefit Dunne and he also thinks it could work the oracle for Wayne Rooney. He reckons there is an inevitability about Rooney's situation at Manchester United and thinks that a move to Chelsea, a club he knows well, could reinvigorate his career.
"There's only a few clubs in the world where you can ask for one transfer and get away with it. No way can you ask for a second transfer – not at the biggest club in Britain.
"Upstairs at Manchester United, they'll be saying all the right things, because they want the biggest fee; they want to make it look like he's still a valuable asset to them. The truth is, he's not.
"Wayne coming back from the tour of Asia was another nail in the coffin for me. You don't have to come back to England with a hamstring injury, nor should you.
"It's easy to treat and the physios are all out there. It's all panning out that he will leave.
"Chelsea would be a great move and Wayne would enjoy west London. It's a beautiful place to live. There aren't many places in England where you can go and eat out, be quite chilled out and not get bothered, but west London is one of them.
"You can go to certain restaurants and certain bars and you'll be left well alone. In some ways, it's not a goldfish bowl and I think that could suit Wayne and his missus."
From a football point of view, he also thinks that the motivational skills of Jose Mourinho and the flexibility of their midfield options would play to his strengths.
"They have loads of players from alternating positions who can support him and swap with him," he stressed.
"Hazard can, Oscar can, Mata can. There's no other club in England that has those options and I think that could really suit Wayne. I think he needs that new challenge."
Cascarino was speaking at the launch of a Ladbrokes campaign to raise money for the Jockey's Emergency Fund. The bookies will donate €1 for every race-goer who wears an element of red to their outfit at the Galway Races on Saturday, August 3. A minimum of €10,000 will be donated.
Joining him at the launch were Sean O'Brien, Trevor Hogan, Ronnie Whelan, Jason Sherlock, Joe Canning and jockey Andrew McNamara, a cousin of JT McNamara, who was paralysed at Cheltenham in March.