No disappearing acts but still plenty of problems for Trap

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI’S ultimatum to what he called the ‘disappeared’ appears to have had the desired effect, with all the squad players communicating clearly with the Irish camp ahead of this week’s friendly game against Croatia at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, the manager has been unable to whip fickle fate into similar line, with the squad being reduced to 21 after further withdrawals for entirely legitimate and transparent reasons.

“Everything went well,” said Marco Tardelli yesterday when asked about the effect of the manager’s ultimatum.

“All players called Mary O’Brien (of the FAI’s international department).

“Everything is good. Maybe it’s very important that Giovanni said this.”

Indeed, over the weekend, the manager himself confirmed that there had been an assurance from James McCarthy — the most headline-grabbing of the stayaways back in May — that he would turn up for this fixture.

“James McCarthy assured us he will be over,” said Trapattoni. “He definitely wants to be part of it. It’s all fine now.”

However, not all the news from the players was good, with Marc Wilson ruled out with an ankle injury and his Stoke teammate Jonathan Walters doubtful with a calf problem.

Nevertheless, in keeping with Trapattoni’s new rules, the striker was still coming to Dublin last night to have his injury assessed by the FAI medical staff.

Other new withdrawals through injury include Keith Fahey, Keith Andrews, Seamus Coleman and Damien Delaney, the latter pair’s absence further reducing the options at full-back and leading Trapattoni to call Ciarán Clark back into the squad after the Aston Villa man had failed to make the original cut.

Contrary to some reports yesterday, Trapattoni has not already decided to start Robbie Keane on the bench against Croatia, though the captain is expected to see only about 45 minutes of action so that the manager can also test the pairing of Shane Long and Simon Cox.

With John O’Shea, Kevin Kilbane, Aidan McGeady, Liam Lawrence, Paul McShane and Kevin Foley already among the more familiar names who are unavailable, Tardelli admitted that “we have many problems against what will be a very strong Croatian team. For example, now we have just three central midfielders — McCarthy, Whelan and Gibson. I don’t know why, always, the Irish players are injured. I don’t know.”

Asked about Keane once again finding himself in limbo at Spurs on the eve of a new season, Tardelli replied with a smile: “It was the same question last season but, at the end, he scored goals for us that were very important.

“During the season he will play — I just don’t know where. It’s better for us that he plays, although not too much.”

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND squad: Given, Westwood, Forde, Kelly, Ward, Dunne, Clark, St Ledger, O’ Dea, Whelan, Gibson, McCarthy, Keogh, Duff, Hunt, Treacy, Walters, Long, Doyle, Cox, Keane.

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