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Scouting mission: 5 grounds Trap should visit this weekend

The Italian and his assistant are believed to be attending top flight games in England.

Trap and Tardelli.
Trap and Tardelli.
Image: Potts/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE CAT HAS dodged the sack.

After a rollercoaster week of rumours, stand-offs and emergency meetings, Giovanni Trapattoni is still in a job.

Now, with five months until their next competitive game, the current management team has the perfect opportunity to re-assess the players at their disposal ahead of friendly matches scheduled in November (Greece) and February (Poland).

According to reports this morning, the FAI has told the Italian that he needs to attend matches more regularly and the word is he will travel to England this weekend.

Here are five grounds where Trap could run the rule over a number of his players:

1. Carrow Road – Norwich v Arsenal

Overlooked for a number of years, Canaries playmaker Wes Hoolahan finally received a call-up to the senior squad back in August but was forced to pull out of the Serbia friendly due to a Achilles problem. Then when 20-year-old Conor Clifford was invited to link up ahead of him for last week’s qualifiers, Tardelli suggested that Hoolahan was too old. The former Shelbourne star may have recently turned 30 but he possesses the vision and creative that Ireland are lacking at the moment. Unfortunately, along with fellow Irish prospect Anthony Pilkington, he hasn’t featured as much as he would have liked under Chris Hughton but should start tomorrow.

2. Craven Cottage – Fulham v Aston Villa

No, a trip to southwest London isn’t to persuade Damien Duff back to the international fold. Back in August, Trap travelled to Birmingham to speak with Richard Dunne and took in Aston Villa v Everton. Ciaran Clark started that day but instead of staking a claim for a spot in Ireland’s backline, the London-born player was shown a red card. However, the 23-year-old has been a regular in Dunne’s absence and deserves to be ahead of Darren O’Dea in the pecking order. Fulham’s Stephen Kelly, who allegedly had a bust-up with Tardelli last week, is likely to feature for visitors. Stephen Ireland, meanwhile, returns to the Villa squad after suffering a broke bone in his arm. But that’s another day’s work.

3. The Hawthorns – West Brom v Manchester City

He was given ten minutes against the Faroes but most would have loved to see him feature from the start. If Trap paid a visit to the Hawthorns tomorrow he could evaluate how Shane Long does against one of the league’s strongest defences. The Baggies have been flying under Steve Clarke and sit sixth in the table. Long has scored two league goals and played excellently, prompting his manager to express his surprise at the fact that he can’t get a start for the Boys in Green.

4. Anfield – Liverpool v Reading

We may be relatively well-off in the striking department but Reading’s Noel Hunt has been in good form over the past couple of weeks. The 28-year-old has more league goals than Jon Walters and Kevin Doyle and as many as Shane Long and Simon Cox. His Royals side take are at Anfield tomorrow and while Ian Harte still has a sweet left-foot, his best days are behind him recent call-up Alex Pearce could return having been dropped for their last league game.

5. The Stadium of Light – Sunderland v Newcastle United

On Sunday, the Tyne-Wear derby will no doubt be another feisty affair and, after missing out on the Germany and Faroe games, James McClean could well be thrown into the thick of the action. The 23-year-old didn’t link up with Ireland due to a groin injury but, strangely, Martin O’Neill has stated that McClean was fit to travel to Torshavn, adding that he hopes it wasn’t a “miscommunication”. It is time for McClean to become a regular in Ireland’s team and Trap hopefully recognises that. With captain Lee Cattermole serving a three-match ban, David Meyler may get the shout in midfield.

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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