| 6°C Dublin

Ireland facing tough choice for right-back slot in Skopje, says Tardelli


CHOICES: Marco Tardelli. Photo: Sportsfile

CHOICES: Marco Tardelli. Photo: Sportsfile

CHOICES: Marco Tardelli. Photo: Sportsfile

AFTER dealing with a small group last week, there was a fuller look about Giovanni Trapattoni's training session in Malahide yesterday.

John O'Shea, Aiden McGeady and Kevin Kilbane were involved after reporting for duty following their club commitments over the weekend, while Shane Long was expected in last night after his play-off disappointment with Reading on Monday.

Keith Fahey trained -- showing no evidence of the swollen knee that had caused problems after Sunday's win over Scotland -- while Sean St Ledger also took a prominent part, although Marco Tardelli indicated afterwards that it was too soon to say that the Preston man is in the reckoning for Saturday's qualifier in Macedonia.

Tardelli believes that the defender needs to show he can come through another two or three days of full training.

Keith Andrews sat out the session with a minor complaint, and is expected to be part of proceedings today. Third-choice 'keeper Darren Randolph has suffered a minor injury and misses Macedonia, with Brian Murphy called up in his place.


Assistant boss Tardelli acknowledged that the identity of the back four for Skopje is one of the decisions Trapattoni faces in the coming days, specifically the right-back role, where Paul McShane, Kevin Foley, Stephen Kelly and Seamus Coleman are options.

"Every player did well against Scotland and Northern Ireland and we have a choice to make. We have seen we can trust the players from last week, and we have a couple of days to make a decision," said Tardelli.

After a turbulent week with respect to player attendance, Tardelli was happy to see some familiar faces back in the camp. He brushed off a question about Caleb Folan, who was called up to the squad, pulled out with injury and then made a 17-minute appearance for Colorado Rapids at the weekend.

"I was very happy for him that he played," laughed Tardelli. "I hope the next time he is called, he will come with us. He plays sometimes for us."

Meanwhile, in happier news, the Italian praised Paul Doolin's U-19 side, who inflicted a 3-0 defeat on his homeland earlier this week to qualify for July's European Championships.

"We spoke with Paul and the players in the hotel before they went to Poland," he said. "That result would have been a shock in Italy, but it's very important for us. That's us -- Ireland! Because it will help the development of young players."

Irish Independent