Friday 19 January 2018

Trap goes full circle

Giovanni Trapattoni wants his fringe players to prove their worth
Giovanni Trapattoni wants his fringe players to prove their worth

Giovanni Trapattoni will complete a circle of sorts when he sends his new-look Ireland team out against Georgia on Sunday evening.

The game is a friendly which the Italian will use to assess the depth of his squad ahead of Friday night's World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.

However, it is also a repeat of his first competitive fixture as Ireland manager when his side took on the Georgians at a neutral venue in Mainz, Germany in September 2008 as they set out on what they hoped would be the road to the World Cup finals in South Africa.

They were ultimately to be denied on a cruel and controversial evening in Paris, but it was there that the veteran Italian unfolded his masterplan as his fabled system helped to secure a 2-1 victory. Almost five years on, Trapattoni's continued presence in the job remains a topic of extended debate, but he believes much has changed, and for the better, in the meantime.

He said: "We have changed many players, we have changed all the squad. There is only Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane, Aiden McGeady - we have changed all the team. It was not easy. We had to choose players who were on the bench in the Championship, we have to choose players for the positions.

"But now we have more players who play in the Championship, they play in the Premier League and the team has changed. We have very, very much international experience. But it is not finished."

Only five of the men who started that afternoon in Germany - John O'Shea, Richard Dunne, Glenn Whelan, Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane - are included in the current squad, and none of them will start on Saturday.

However, Trapattoni's philosophy throughout his tenure, to the annoyance of his critics, has revolved around a system into which other players can slot with the minimum of fuss. As a result, he will expect the men who walk out against Georgia, to perform the same function as their more senior colleagues did in Wednesday night's creditable 1-1 draw with England at Wembley.

Trapattoni said: "This is another opportunity. I will show them tomorrow morning before the game what our team did well against England. They can understand only with this attitude and this performance with our quality, we can achieve every result.

"England was a tough game, but we also have to realise that it will not be easy against Georgia because Georgia have players playing in Russia in the strong teams, they play in Germany, they are international players. They lost against Spain, okay, but lost in the last 10 minutes. They achieved a draw with Finland. They have very good players."

Press Association

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