Sport Soccer

Sunday 21 January 2018

Trap facing tough calls

THE newcomers to Giovanni Trapattoni's squad for last May's training camp will effectively get their exam results today when the Italian names his selection for the upcoming friendly with Argentina, writes Daniel McDonnell.

With a number of the regulars who missed the Malahide gathering and subsequent friendlies with Paraguay and Algeria now available again, the Irish boss faces some tough calls in picking his panel for the first international game at the renovated Lansdowne Road on August 11.

Derby's Paul Green will be included after making a strong impression, while Birmingham midfielder Keith Fahey's place is less certain with Darron Gibson and James McCarthy available again.

Young Manchester City left-back Greg Cunningham did well against Algeria, but Trapattoni does have the option of drafting in Wolves' Stephen Ward, who has more experience yet was unable to attend the early-summer meeting due to injury.

Cillian Sheridan, who is on his way out of Celtic, was sprung from the bench in both games and impressed the Italian. He is vying with Leon Best, Shane Long, Andy Keogh and Caleb Folan for the role of back-up striker to Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle.

The Argentina game marks the return to proper business for Trap, and he will be encouraged by Shay Given's rapid recovery from the shoulder injury that threatened to mark him absent for September's opening European Championship qualifier in Armenia.

He should be present for the Argentina clash, although there is still uncertainty about the identity of the opposition manager, with Diego Maradona locked in negotiations about his future.

While the Argentine FA are keen to offer Maradona another four years, they appear less enthusiastic about the retention of his back-room staff.

However, Maradona has stated: "If they touch a hair of one of my guys, even if it's the masseur or kitman, I'm going."

Irish Independent

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