Monday 23 October 2017

Trap's textual relations cast doubts over Given future

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

CONFUSION surrounds the future intentions of Ireland's most capped player, Shay Given, after Giovanni Trapattoni revealed that the Donegal man is yet to reply to the text message which informed the veteran he would miss out on next month's friendly with Serbia.

The Italian attributed the lack of a response to the fact that Given is in America with Aston Villa for a pre-season tour. And there were suggestions yesterday that the 36-year-old had changed his phone number, which might explain the communication issue.

Either way, there is a shortage of clarity on where Given stands, with Trapattoni alluding that Keiren Westwood could start September's World Cup qualifier with Kazakhstan, hinting that he would like his current No 1 to be there in an advisory capacity.

It is hard to imagine that scenario being palatable to Given, who may have suffered a grim European Championships but is still the only Irish 'keeper likely to kick off the new Premier League campaign as his team's first-choice option.

By contrast, Westwood is very much second choice at Sunderland and, come October, match sharpness could be a major concern.

As it stands, the ball is in Given's court. His Euros dream turned into a nightmare with an interrupted preparation followed by mistakes in the finals.

There were fears that, in the heat of the moment, he would immediately pack it in. But he has taken time to consider his options. Before the tournament, he said a chat with Trapattoni would determine his next step but, clearly, they haven't been able to arrange that summit.

umbrage

The Ireland boss took umbrage to the suggestion that he fails to interact properly with his players in the wake of his decision to go to Serbia without a raft of senior stars.

In a media briefing with journalists in Donegal on Friday, he went as far as to send an FAI official to fetch his mobile phone. He then showed the assembled press corps a text message from Stephen Hunt, listed as 'Hunt, St' in Trapattoni's mobile. "Ok, no problem," texted Hunt, when told by SMS that he would not be included for this trip.

The Wolves man was fuming at his non-involvement in the Euros and will doubtless be perturbed to see Keith Treacy getting a chance to move up the pecking order, with James McClean already in pole position to challenge Aiden McGeady and Damien Duff if the latter chooses to continue.

While the 30-year-old may be unhappy about his lot, Trapattoni can at least say that he properly notified him of his plans for August.

With Given, however, the present state of affairs is clear as mud.

Irish Independent

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