Trap caught in the middle
Duff joins Andrews on sidelines as Ireland face midfield crisis
IRELAND'S troubled preparations for their Euro 2012 opener with Armenia took a further hit yesterday with Damien Duff ruled out and Giovanni Trapattoni left to cope with a midfield crisis.
Two of his first-choice midfielders, Keith Andrews (groin) and Duff (calf) miss the long trek to Yerevan, while Liam Lawrence is yet to play this season and could miss training today as he mulls over a move to Portsmouth.
Duff's likely replacement, Aiden McGeady, is suffering from a slight ankle problem and hasn't played a match of consequence since May, and Stephen Hunt is still on the sidelines. Another emerging wide option, Keith Treacy, was last night deemed unfit to travel to Armenia with a groin complaint.
It means that Paul Green and Keith Fahey, neither of whom have played a competitive senior international, are in the frame to start. Manchester United's Darron Gibson, has failed to even make the bench in recent weekends.
Meanwhile, the futures of Robbie Keane and Shay Given remain relatively up in the air, although reports that the latter was on a flight back to England yesterday evening proved inaccurate. The indications are he has turned down the chance of a move to Fulham and will instead fight for his place at Eastlands.
That will please Trapattoni, who believes that Given can yet make an impact at Manchester City despite his frustration. "If Shay listens to me, he will stay where he is," said the Irish boss.
Keane has multiple suitors, but his £70,000-a-week pay packet is outside their reach. So, unless the Irish skipper agrees to a large pay cut, his only plausible escape route is a loan move -- save for a last-minute act of largesse from either Newcastle or West Ham.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp may want to show Keane the door but after missing out on Sevilla's Luis Fabiano, he is pursuing other options. If nothing comes of that chase, then the Tallaght man will be staying put.
Trapattoni will give permission for any player to skip training today if their future is at stake. Lawrence is due to hold further talks with Portsmouth as a makeweight in a deal to bring Irishman Marc Wilson to Stoke, while Anthony Stokes is set to become a Celtic player today pending the successful completion of a medical.