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Long can play for a big club, but he must be guaranteed games - Trapattoni

The Ireland manager also said he was hopeful both Anthony Pilkington and David Forde would be fit in time for the World Cup qualifiers.

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni at yesterday's squad announcement.
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni at yesterday's squad announcement.

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI BELIEVES Ireland striker Shane Long is good enough to play for a big club, but emphasised that he needs to be guaranteed first-team football if he makes a move.

The striker has been linked with a number of clubs during the transfer window, including Roma and Arsenal, but the Italian says the Tipperary native should approach such a decision with caution.

“I would ask that [Long] must have an assurance to play. He’s fast and his attitude is very important.

“I think he must decide. His agent and family must decide. He’s at the right age now. He could do very well in Italy and at Arsenal.”

Trapattoni believes Ireland have “three or four” players who could thrive in Serie A, but added: “I am not friends with agents in Italy. They don’t know the quality of the Irish players very well.”

Meanwhile, Long’s former strike partner, Kevin Doyle, was another topic of conversation yesterday, in light of his continuing absence from the squad.

Yet Trapattoni insisted that he and Marco Tardelli were still “following” the player.

“I love Doyle as a player and as a man,” he said, before pausing and dryly adding: “I love women – without a doubt.”

And when Trapattoni was asked how Doyle must feel seeing Anthony Pilkington – who has yet to make his international debut – chosen ahead of him for such crucial qualifiers, the veteran coach showed his first signs of frustration.

“Pilkington plays another position,” he said. “It’s different.”

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The Italian proceeded to defend the Norwich star, despite many critics questioning his commitment, with the player having consistently withdrawn from squads since his first call-up, and claiming he was optimistic he’d be fit in time for the Sweden game.

“After his game, he needed an injection,” the Italian explained, adding that Millwall goalkeeper David Forde was also likely to win his race to be fit in time for the qualifiers. “[Pilkington] said he had to be careful with an injury, because the inflammation could be dangerous for his career.

“He said ‘I’m hopeful to be ready’. Our doctor said he’d need one or two weeks, but I am confident he’ll be ready.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming games, Trapattoni insisted the side could take confidence from their recent exploits, highlighting in particular the games against England and Spain.

“Our improvement was clear,” he said. “We must continue this way with the same conviction, the same attitude, the same enthusiasm – we need to have enthusiasm.

“Reaching the World Cup would make me proud, because as a player, I was in Rio de Janeiro many years ago when I played in the Club World Cup with Milan.

“I want that for the Irish team.”

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Paul Fennessy

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