Trap sends out open invitation to England

IT’S down to the English FA to make the final decision on any prospective pre-Euro 2012 friendly with Ireland, according to Giovanni Trapattoni.

The Ireland manager declared yesterday he is fully in favour of such a friendly just before the competition begins, as he now looks to finalise preparation having settled the details for Ireland’s tournament base in Gdynia. And, now that UEFA have relaxed the rule prohibiting qualified countries from playing each other 30 days before Euro 2012, the ultimate decision will rest with the English body.

“We’d certainly be open to a friendly against England,” Trapattoni said yesterday. “The news that UEFA have given the go-ahead for a match in the month before the championships opens that possibility. It will come down to whether England want to play.”

The FAI have a long-standing agreement with the FA over such staging an eventual match, and there is a feeling that Ireland are still “owed” for the trouble at the Lansdowne Road friendly in 1995.

Interestingly, despite his desire for such a rematch, Trapattoni insisted it is time to forget such controversy. The paramount issue, according to the Italian, should be testing the team against sides of similar calibre to Spain and Italy.

“From a broader point of view, it is time to put the issues of the past behind us. On a football point of view, it would give us a chance to test ourselves against one of the best teams in the world.”

Trapattoni also admitted Ireland will have a second look at a training base at Montecatini in Italy before deciding on a pre-tournament base. He also dismissed suggestions that such a choice could prove a distraction given Ireland will have to face Italy — and also because the Italian Football Federation’s (FIGC) headquarters is so close to the area.

Trapattoni added: “That wouldn’t be a concern. It’s 50km away from Coverciano [the FIGC centre]. The pitch is enclosed so we could control it with normal levels of media access. It’s a nice climate and the facilities are good. It’s one of the options we’re looking at. I don’t see the media attention as something to worry about.

“We’ve been down to visit it. From a facilities point of view, the hotel and pitch are great. It’s used for Serie C. Everything seems to be there that we might require but there will be a second evaluation of it.

“There are other possibilities that we’re looking at. It’s the only one we’ve looked at so far. We liked what we saw but there is no rush... It depends on how friendlies fall into place.”

Trapattoni spoke in similarly glowing terms about Ireland’s choice of base in Gdynia, just outside Gdansk — the venue for the match against Spain.

“Gdynia is pretty much perfect in terms of what we want. We’re in Poland. In terms of training facilities they’re perfect, and they are close to both the hotel and airport. It also works well that we have one of our matches in Gdansk. The transfer times for the other matches are very small [a 30-40-minute flight].”

As regards the actual first XI for those matches, Trapattoni dismissed any recent suggestions that Shay Given’s place is under threat because of injuries and errors, combined with the form of Sunderland’s Keiren Westwood.

He said: “It’s going to be three to four weeks probably before [Given] is back. There’s a long way to go to April. Shay Given is my number one and I don’t see any reason why that will change.

“The fact that Keiren is playing well and David Forde has been for Millwall is a positive, as was Shay for Villa. He’s out but that will happen to a few players between now and April.

“The important thing is that everyone is fit by the time the tournament comes around.”

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