Nightmare for Trapattoni as growing injury list throws plans into disarray
Daniel McDonnell runs the rule over the weekend highs and lows of Ireland's squad for crucial Germany clash
A weekend of woe for Giovanni Trapattoni. The Irish manager is always nervous during the last set of fixtures before an international gathering.
It's the one time when he would probably prefer some of his favourites to be left out by their club managers.
Alas, following on from Kevin Doyle's injury on Friday, hamstring injuries to Sean St Ledger and Glenn Whelan could rob the Italian of two certain starters for next Friday's meeting with Germany at the Aviva.
Both will undergo scans in Dublin today. If Whelan misses out, Trapattoni's musings about the possibility of using three central midfielders could be rendered obsolete. He had spoken about fielding Whelan, James McCarthy and the returning Keith Andrews in a revised set-up.
St Ledger's absence would present Trapattoni with serious defensive difficulties given that his first-choice centre-half, Richard Dunne, is already sidelined.
Darren O'Dea is now certain to be involved, and the big decision revolves around the deployment of John O'Shea. He is playing regularly at centre-back for Sunderland and it would seem logical to bring his experience into that department for Ireland.
That opens a vacancy at right-back, where the public's choice will be Seamus Coleman given that an injury to Tony Hibbert has finally given him the opportunity to play there for Everton. However, it would be a huge surprise if Trapattoni trusted him there in a game where Ireland are likely to be on the defensive, particularly as so much of Germany's attacking threat comes from wide areas.
Therefore, a more plausible scenario is a straight choice between Stephen Kelly and Paul McShane. In the past, Trapattoni has opted for Kelly, but a spell on the bench at Fulham means that rustiness is a concern. On the flip side, McShane is back playing regularly for Hull, but in a central role.
The other option, of course, would be Marc Wilson, who has Premier League experience all across the back four. It is hard, however, to see him getting the nod ahead of both Kelly and McShane.
With James McClean also a doubt, it's proved to be a costly 48 hours with minimal cheer for the players in line to figure against the Germans.
Ireland Squad Watch
Keiren Westwood: Another Saturday afternoon on the bench for Westwood, who has been restricted to League Cup action with Sunderland this term.
David Forde: Back between the sticks for Millwall as they enjoyed a significant win over Bolton.
Darren Randolph: Afternoon off after a power failure prevented Motherwell and Dundee United's game from going ahead.
Stephen Ward: Played a full part in a crucial win for Wolves at Blackburn. Had been troubled by an ankle problem a week previous.
Stephen Kelly: An unused substitute in Fulham's eventful draw at Southampton.
Marc Wilson: Busy afternoon for Wilson as Stoke's mission to come away from Anfield with a point was successful.
Darren O'Dea: Involved in another defeat for Toronto FC as DC United scored the only goal of the game.
Sean St Ledger: Cruel luck for St Ledger, who damaged a hamstring midway through Leicester's dismissal of Bristol City.
Paul McShane: Like Forde, he's now in favour and he was part of the Hull defence that kept a clean sheet in their win at Sheffield Wednesday.
Seamus Coleman: In the continued absence of Tony Hibbert, another 90-minute outing at right-back for Coleman in Everton's draw at Wigan.
Glenn Whelan: Disaster struck 20 minutes into Stoke's trip to Anfield when Whelan suffered a hamstring injury.
James McCarthy: Picked up a booking as he lasted the duration of an entertaining game with Everton.
Keith Andrews: Replaced 11 minutes from the end of Bolton's reverse at the hands of Forde's Millwall.
David Meyler: Unused sub as Manchester City brushed Sunderland aside comfortably.
Keith Fahey: Replaced at half-time as Birmingham suffered another defeat at home to Huddersfield.
Aiden McGeady: Full 90 minutes on another bad day at home for Spartak as CSKA came away with full points in Moscow derby.
James McClean: Disappointing 90 minutes against Manchester City for the Derry lad, perhaps explained by tightness in groin he felt afterwards.
Robbie Brady: Not involved in Manchester United's trip to Newcastle.
Simon Cox: Could have scored more than once, but Andy Reid saved the day for Nottingham Forest at Peterborough.
Andy Keogh: Introduced 17 minutes from the end of Millwall's dramatic late win over Bolton.
Shane Long: Created the first goal before making way for Romelu Lukaku just after the hour mark in 3-2 triumph over QPR.
Jon Walters: Involved for the full 90 minutes in Stoke's hard-fought draw at Anfield.
Robbie Keane: On target for LA Galaxy with a cracking volley in a 2-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake.