Kevin Doyle axed for crunch qualifiers
Kevin Doyle has been dropped from the squad for Ireland's World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria, while Aiden McGeady has been ruled out with injury.
"As a manager, I am sometimes faced with some very tough decisions, but I feel that the squad I have chosen will get us the results we need from these two qualifiers," Giovanni Trapattoni said last night. "I have not made these choices lightly."
Doyle, capped 53 times for his country, was Ireland's first-choice striker at the European Championships but, despite scoring the winning goal against Kazakhstan in Astana last September – a goal which might have helped keep Trapattoni in a job – he has dropped out of contention through injury and poor club form.
In January, a loan move to Celtic fell through and with Wolves in the relegation zone in the Championship, Doyle has been in and out of the team, with manager Dean Saunders saying he had lost his "eye of the tiger".
Doyle scored for Wolves yesterday in their 2-1 win against Bristol City but it was his first goal since scoring twice against the same opposition on December 1. However, Trapattoni's decision effectively to replace a player with great experience, and who has scored 12 international goals, with Derby County's Conor Sammon is bound to be controversial.
Trapattoni announced a final squad of 23 and Doyle was one of six players placed on stand-by, along with another first choice from the European Championships, Stephen Ward, as well as David Meyler, Alex Pearce, Joey O'Brien and Stephen Henderson. Paul McShane misses out through injury.
Stephen Kelly has been included in the squad despite the stand-off between the player and manager following the Poland game last month when the FAI warned Trapattoni that he should keep team matters private. Wes Hoolahan, Jeff Hendrick and Paul Green have also been included. Andy Keogh, who was left out of the original 29-man squad, makes the 23.
Trapattoni had suggested Anthony Pilkington would start before injury ruled him out and with McGeady now also missing, James McClean will hope to start in Stockholm.
Apart from McGeady and McShane, Ireland's players came through yesterday's fixtures. Seamus Coleman was outstanding in Everton's defeat of Manchester City while Trapattoni was at the Britannia to see Shane Long return from injury and play the last 15 minutes of West Brom's scoreless draw with Stoke City. Glenn Whelan was replaced at half-time.