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McCarthy's early return gives Trap some food for thought

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI will today name his squad for next month's Carling Nations Cup meeting with Wales and the quicker-than-expected return to fitness of Wigan midfielder James McCarthy has given the Italian a dilemma.

McCarthy was an unused sub for Wigan in their mauling by Arsenal, having returned from his ankle problem ahead of schedule. That setback ruled him out of the squad for the November friendly loss to Norway. Trapattoni has previously indicated that the 20-year-old is one he would like to take a look at in the new competition.

However, he may reason that the February 8 encounter has come too soon, although it seems certain McCarthy will return to action with Wigan between now and then.

Ciaran Clark will be included in the squad and it will be interesting to learn if Trapattoni is considering him as a possible left-back, where he played for Aston Villa against Manchester City on Saturday.


Greg Cunningham would have played there against the Welsh, but he is currently sidelined with a broken leg.

Kevin Kilbane is the first choice in the position, but the Welsh match is surely the ideal time to look at an alternative.

Wolves' Stephen Ward, another who can operate in a variety of roles, might also come into the reckoning for the No 3 jersey.

Seamus Coleman will be named in the panel and should win a first cap, although Trapattoni has said that he views the Donegal man as a defender rather than as an option for the wide role where he is thriving for Everton.

John O'Shea's comeback from injury is good news for the Italian -- as is Richard Dunne's resurgence at Villa.

For a man who had been out since November with a calf injury, O'Shea made a fine return to action for United against Birmingham.

"It has been a frustrating time," said O'Shea. "I thought it was only going to be a week to 10 days. But I pushed it a bit too soon and did it (the calf) again.

"I had to be more careful after that. It is frustrating when you are missing games, but I am delighted to be back."

O'Shea revealed that, like all of his team-mates, he now a fan of yoga thanks to Ryan Giggs.

"All the lads are after buying Ryan's new yoga DVD to keep going. He's incredible.

"You see the balance in his feet, the turn of pace he still has. We're going to try and freeze him to try and keep him going for even longer."

Trapattoni, meanwhile, will be less pleased by the fact that established regulars such as Robbie Keane, Glenn Whelan and Shay Given are still short of match practice.

Irish Independent