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Dublin: 17 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020
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Trapattoni hopeful on Ireland's walking wounded

The Republic of Ireland boss is optimistic that both Robbie Keane and Shane Long could play some part in next month’s Euro 2012 playoff.

Shane Long and Robbie Keane - will they be fit to face Estonia?
Shane Long and Robbie Keane - will they be fit to face Estonia?
Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI is fully aware of the different options open to him if faced with a striker shortage ahead of next month’s Euro 2012 playoffs.

But, the Republic of Ireland boss said, he is optimistic that it won’t come to that.

This morning, the Italian named the injured Robbie Keane and Shane Long as two of only five strikers in a 26-man squad for the two-legged tie against Estonia.

And with Kevin Doyle suspended for the first leg in Tallinn on 11 November, Trapattoni knows that he is running the risk of having to select an untested partnership of Jonathan Walters and Simon Cox up front.

Keane returned to full training with the LA Galaxy on Wednesday and, although short of match practice, has indicated that he’ll be ready to link up with his team-mates next week.

As for Long, no final call will be made on his inclusion until after he undergoes further scans on the knee injury which he suffered while in action for West Brom last weekend.

“I was in touch with him and he said that he thinks it’s not bad,” Trapattoni said.

“His manager, my friend Mr Hodgson, said he would be out for six weeks but we spoke to his doctor and he said that after the scan, it would be clear.

I hope he’ll be fit, but we’ll know a bit better tomorrow. If he is not ready, we have other options, like Leon Best.

Best, who has three league goals in seven Premier League starts for Newcastle, might feel a bit aggrieved not to get a nod in light of the current injury crisis, as might Celtic’s Anthony Stokes.

Neither featured heavily in the qualification campaign though, and Trapattoni said that sticking with players who know the system and tactics was the most sensible option.

“It’s important that if we change one or two players, the team doesn’t change its face.”

Me and Marco have had many opportunities to decide on this squad — the Four Nations [Carling Cup], the friendly [against Croatia], and the last two games. These players know the system and then we are more confident.

Ireland’s recent string of results to finish second in Group B saw them move up four places in the FIFA World Rankings to 25th, a sizeable 34 spots ahead of the Estonians.

In preparation, Trapattoni said that he spoke to Faroe Islands manager Brian Kerr and Italian boss Cesare Prandelli, both of whom came up against Estonia in the group stages.

And having taken their counsel and watched back the tapes himself, Trapattoni warned however that their industry and discipline off the ball will make them a tough nut to crack.

“It’s a strong team. Ten work in defence, 10 work to score a goal. When they lose the ball, all the players work to try to get it back. They know they’ll only achieve success with this system.

They’ve played with the same mentality, philosophy and system for two years. They maybe change one or two players, a striker or some other, depending on who they are playing but they always have the same mentality.

Ireland squad: Shay Given, Keiren Westwood, David Forde; John O’Shea, Stephen Kelly, Stephen Ward, Richard Dunne, Sean St. Ledger, Darren O’Dea, Paul McShane; Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman, Keith Andrews, Keith Fahey, Darron Gibson, Andy Keogh, Damien Duff, Aiden McGeady, Stephen Hunt, Liam Lawrence; Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Simon Cox, Jon Walters.

Poll: did Trap get his squad decision right?

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Niall Kelly

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