Giovanni Trapattoni has warned key men Shay Given and John O’Shea they will have to prove their fitness ahead of Euro 2012.
Both are due to resume training in Montecatini, Italy next week after knee and ankle injuries respectively, and while Trapattoni is confident they will make the plane to Poland, Paul McShane will travel to the pre-tournament training camp as a 24th member of the squad as cover for O’Shea and Kevin Foley, who is recovering from a hamstring strain.
The pair were in good spirits before this afternoon’s 1-0 friendly victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina, which provided their side with a fitting send-off, but Trapattoni and his medical staff know they will have important decisions to make with the final squad list having to be submitted on Tuesday.
The Italian said: “They will have to show us on Monday they are ready. Richard Dunne showed that to us on Friday.”
Injuries aside, the Ireland party will head for Tuscany in high spirits after a narrow, but satisfying victory over the Bosnians.
Shane Long’s 78th-minute header ultimately won the game, but the Republic could have claimed victory far more comfortably.
They were denied by both the post and the crossbar as first Aiden McGeady and then Jon Walters, both half-time substitutes, went agonisingly close, while keeper Asmir Begovic produced fine saves to deny both Walters a Long in a strong finish by the Irish.
Trapattoni said: “The possession in the first and second half was a little bit less, but we had more opportunities, more shots around the box and also more corners and we deserved to win a very important game.
“We also made two little mistakes and they [Bosnia] could have scored a goal. But we played well, with a good attitude, mentality and performance.”
Trapattoni was pleased with the individual performance of winger James McClean, who did little in his first start for his country to quell the excitement surrounding him.
The 73-year-old said of the Sunderland midfielder: “In the first half, he played very well. We wished to give him immediately the opportunity because he needs to get confidence.
“It is the first time he has played with Keane and Doyle – and he did very well, especially in the first half.
“In the second half, he went a little bit down. He was running too much and was a little bit tired, but for his first start, he played very well.”
There was praise too for McGeady, who replaced Damien Duff at the break and turned in a fine 45-minute display, setting up Long’s goal and creating a series of other chances at the end of a week during which his contribution had been questioned by former Ireland skipper Roy Keane.
Trapattoni said: “When we arrived here, McGeady was already a very good player, but every young player needs confidence.
“Now he is playing, playing, playing in another country, different football, and he is getting more confidence.
“Now McGeady is one of our strongest players.”
It proved a highly productive day for Ireland, and it was a relief to their manager that they emerged with no further injuries after a week of niggles which prompted him to make a last minute change after he had initially named Sean St Ledger in his starting line-up.
He said: “I said St Ledger and Dunne would play, but then in the night when I couldn’t sleep, I thought about this and was it a good idea or not and decided to change with [Darren] O’Dea and run the risk with only one.
“Two together was a little bit dangerous, but we are happy because we did a good job.”
Trapattoni and his players will fly out to Italy tomorrow morning and spend the following week preparing for their finally friendly against Hungary in Budapest a week on Monday.
They will leave behind glorious weather on the north Co Dublin coast, but the manager has warned his players to expect even higher temperatures in Montecatini and higher still in Poland.
He said: “In Gdansk, it is very, very warm, very hot. I played in Brazil against Santos in 45 degrees. I was melting like a candle.”