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Harte: Trap didn't even know I was Irish

Ian Harte has delivered a wounding attack on Giovanni Trapattoni's time as Ireland manager, describing the Italian's failure to attend matches in England as "absolute madness".

Harte, capped 63 times by Ireland, claimed Trapattoni was unaware that he was Irish when the manager was informed by an international team-mate of his availability.

Harte's comments come at the end of another difficult week for Trapattoni when he became embroiled in a battle with Wigan's James McCarthy and Stoke's Marc Wilson about their availability.

Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli claimed the players hadn't shown respect to their country last week. This was backed up by captain Robbie Keane, who declared the behaviour of the absent players "unacceptable" and warned: "If you don't want to play for us, don't declare for us."

But, talking to the Sunday Independent, Harte said respect was a two-way street.

"I'd love the opportunity to go over and play for Ireland, I'm not even getting a chance, not a sniff, to even join up and have a training session. Lack of respect? I think they should show respect to someone who wants to put the green shirt on, who is Irish and who is passionate about playing for his own country -- then they can have a look deeper inside."

Harte will line out for Reading in the Championship play-off final at Wembley tomorrow, alongside Noel Hunt and Shane Long, but he claimed the Irish management are unaware of his credentials.

"I was speaking to a player recently and he said he spoke to the manager and the assistant manager and they said they didn't even know that I was Irish, so obviously they haven't done their homework.

"I've played 63 times and scored 11 goals and you would think the people that are still involved around the set-up would have told them. It just goes to show that they don't even come across to have a look at any games that I've played.

"They're bringing players like Simon Cox in who has made his debut and other players as well, so it's pretty frustrating that he doesn't bother coming over."

Harte felt his World Cup appearances for Ireland in 2002 should at least have brought him to the attention of the manager, who was in charge of the Italian national side at the time.

"What were they doing, sampling the vino out in Italy? It's pretty mad. You would think that with the amount of games I've played for my country, I would at least get an opportunity, especially with the season we've had here."

Harte said Trapattoni's reputation should not be enough to spare him from criticism.

"Yeah but what have Ireland done since he took over? He's on a lot of money. People are saying he's done well but Mick McCarthy got Ireland to a World Cup."

The full-back, who hasn't given up hope of playing for Ireland again, said the manager must start attending matches rather than watch them on DVD in Milan.

"It's absolute madness. If the majority of players are playing in England, which they are, he needs to come and watch games like any manager, like [Fabio] Capello, like any decent manager is going to do. That's what he's got to do."

See Page 5

Sunday Indo Sport