GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI insists that Darron Gibson has told him he is ready to return to international football in the new year.
The Everton midfielder absented himself from Irish duty after being deeply unhappy with his lack of involvement in the European Championship finals and turned down an invitation to join the squad for the September World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan, citing his experience in Poland.
But the Irish manager feels time has been a healer, with Gibson delivering a positive response after Trapattoni made contact in the aftermath of the dramatic double-header with Germany and Faroe Islands last month.
A toe problem ruled out Gibson for the upcoming friendly with Greece, but the Irish boss, who was in Dublin to name his squad for that game, suggested the midfielder will be available when February's meeting with Poland comes around.
"I spoke to him after the Faroes game and he said, 'Sorry Mister, again, a problem with the toe'. But he said also 'I have no problem when I will be ready.' But at the moment, he no play."
Pressed to clarify if that meant the 25-year-old was over his summer difficulties, Trapattoni replied, "Yes, yes, he said to me 'No problem this'. He was also disappointed, we had many players disappointed."
"Me, I was the first disappointed for the Euros," added Trapattoni.
It's understood that Gibson's situation was among the issues raised by the FAI hierarchy after they decided to retain Trapattoni's services in the aftermath of the October games.
The Irish Independent yesterday confirmed that Wolves defender Kevin Foley is still not ready to return due to his unhappiness with his last-minute exclusion from Euro 2012.
Shane Long was a notable absentee from the provisional 26-man list for the Greece game, but the FAI last night said he would be included if an MRI scan on a knee problem delivered a positive result.
Norwich's Wes Hoolahan has received a welcome call-up and is set to play at least 45 minutes on November 14.
Everton youngster Shane Duffy and Chelsea starlet Conor Clifford are also included, while LA-based Robbie Keane has been excused. Richard Dunne, Marc Wilson and Sean St Ledger are injured.