Monday 23 April 2018

Giovanni Trapattoni poised for trip to see Wes Hoolahan

Ian Mallon and Daniel McDonnell

GIOVANNI Trapattoni is expected to go to Norwich tomorrow to watch Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington after being told by the FAI to watch games in England on a more regular basis.

One of the directives issued by the FAI to the 73-year-old is that he starts going to games regularly to see Irish players and give deserving talent an opportunity.

The Irish Independent has learned the Italian has taken the order "very seriously" and will increase the frequency of his scouting missions, starting with tomorrow's Premier League meeting of Norwich and Arsenal.

News of the Italian's travel plans came on a day of high drama, when RTE and its soccer correspondent Tony O'Donoghue were forced to make an apology to FAI chief John Delaney.

O'Donoghue, in a pretty careless moment on live RTE radio yesterday, claimed Delaney was the source of this newspaper's series of Trapattoni exclusives this week when we revealed the FAI were prepared to sack the manager and that they had lost faith in his ability. We also revealed that the FAI would hold an emergency board meeting on Wednesday, which they did, where Trapattoni clung onto his job in a close vote.

RTE immediately moved to put distance between O'Donoghue's bizarre claims and issued an apology during Mary Wilson's 'Drivetime' show.

The apology is also scheduled to be broadcast again today on 'Morning Ireland' and it was placed on the 'Morning Ireland' page on RTE.ie.

Under the heading 'John Delaney Apology' it reads: "On our 'Morning Ireland' sports bulletin just after 8.30 this morning, we featured a piece between Darren Frehill and our soccer correspondent Tony O'Donoghue in which we stated that it was generally believed that mixed messages had been given to the media about the future of the senior manager's position and that the chief executive of the FAI, John Delaney, was the senior FAI source responsible for these rumours.

"RTE and Tony O'Donoghue would like to unreservedly apologise to the CEO John Delaney for these statements made on our programme which were untrue. We would also like to apologise for the general tone of that particular exchange."

An RTE staff member said: "This was one of our most embarrassing misses, and it has left the station with a lot of egg on its face. In the wake of the 'Prime Time, Mission to Prey' disaster, this is the last thing RTE management wanted."

Back on the pitch, sources have revealed that Trapattoni will take on his responsibilities with a renewed vigour.

"Giovanni knows that he was effectively a dead man, and he has taken the advice very seriously, starting this weekend with Norwich."

Hoolahan has been capped just once for Ireland, during Trapattoni's first month in charge back in May 2008. He was given a late call-up to the squad for the August friendly with Serbia, but was unavailable to accept it due to injury.

English-born midfielder Pilkington was also unable to accept a last-minute invite because he was struggling with his fitness. The versatile, attack-minded player has lined out for Ireland at U-21 level.

Irish Independent

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