Sport Soccer

Friday 15 December 2017

Walters and Clarke set for Irish call-ups

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI will today name his squad for the November 17 friendly against Norway, with Stoke's Jonathan Walters and Aston Villa's Ciaran Clark in line for a first call-up -- providing the relevant paperwork has gone through for the latter.

The Ireland manager has gone on record to say he would like to use this friendly to have a look at some new faces, and specifically name-checked Walters, who has been a regular with the Potters since his £2.75m move from Ipswich in August.

Trapattoni is short of striking cover, and Marco Tardelli was impressed with the 27-year-old when he watched him score the only goal in a recent Premier League meeting with Blackburn.

Meanwhile, the persuasive powers of Richard Dunne have played a significant role in Clark's decision to declare for Ireland. He previously captained England at underage level, but has now committed his international future to the country from where his parents hail.

The London-born defender has broken through to the Aston Villa side on a more regular basis this season, and was preferred to Stephen Ireland in a central-midfield role for last weekend's Birmingham derby.


Given that central defence is another area where Ireland are short of options, Trapattoni will be keen to bring Clark into the fold once the formalities are completed. Dunne believes it's only a matter of time before the 21-year-old is a certain starter for club and country.

Everton's Seamus Coleman, who was a late call-up for last month's Euro 2012 qualifiers with Russia and Slovakia, will be included again and has a chance to earn his first cap after being restricted to the fringes for those encounters.

Injury has robbed Trapattoni of James McCarthy, a desperate shame for the 19-year-old, who was set to add to the solitary cap he earned in the February friendly with Brazil.

McCarthy had an operation this week on the ankle injury which he sustained against Bolton a fortnight ago, and Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is convinced he will return from ankle surgery a better player.

"The most important thing is to see James getting back on the pitch with no problem in that ankle," said the Spaniard. "The best way to do that is to make sure the two ligaments in the ankle that were ruptured heal properly."

The Latics had initially hoped the in-form midfielder would recover without the need to go under the knife but there were fears intensive rehabilitation could cause problems in later life. Wigan are now hoping the former Hamilton player will be back in action before the end of January.

Martinez added: "He is going to come back stronger and, physically, probably in a better situation than he was before the injury. He is now starting his recovery programme and is looking in good spirits, but it is probably going to be the best part of three months."

Meanwhile, another potential recruit to the cause -- West Ham's Mark Noble -- is sidelined due to appendicitis. There has been persistent speculation over the last fortnight that the Essex lad is ready to throw his lot in with Ireland, although a source close to West Ham told the Irish Independent that it was 'extremely unlikely' Noble would change his mind after turning down an earlier approach.

However, it appears that Ireland have continued their pursuit of the 23-year-old. Trapattoni is likely to address the topic today.

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