I’m spoilt for choice, insists confident Trapattoni

You might be tempted to call it accentuating the positive or seeing the glass half-full or even just standard managerial spin but, for a man deemed to be facing a make or break brace of games, there’s no getting away from the fact Giovanni Trapattoni is radiating confidence and good vibes in the run-up to Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers away to Sweden on Friday and at home to Austria the following Tuesday.

I’m spoilt for choice, insists confident Trapattoni

So much so that, even though he will have to do without first-choice personnel like Richard Dunne and Aiden McGeady — as well as Anthony Pilkington who would probably have gone straight into the starting 11 in Stockholm — Trapattoni insists he is still left with one of the happier selection headaches of his time as Ireland manager.

“At last, we have four players in every position,” he enthused after training in Malahide yesterday.

“In midfield, for example, it’s not easy to choose because [Jeff] Hendrick played well against Poland and Paul Green also played good. [Glenn] Whelan is the best in midfield. [James] McCarthy also is very strong. We have many options.

“It’s the first time I have, not difficulty [in deciding the team] — because I have a clear idea — but all players deserve to play. All this squad deserve to play.”

Although, according to Trapattoni, Whelan’s ankle is “a little bit swollen but not too much”, the manager expects the Stoke City man to pass muster today. But while he also declares Sean St Ledger to be “100% fit”, he adds that, with the defender having only just returned from a lengthy lay-off, he’s “not sure to play”.

The leading alternative to the Leicester man to partner John O’Shea at the back would be Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark. “He plays every game, plays well and can also score a goal,” said Trapattoni. “At this moment we have this option.”

West Brom striker Shane Long, who looks a certain starter, has recovered from his recent ankle injury.

“Oh yes,” said the manager. “The young players are always fit. Shane is ready. He has been training and he is ready to play.”

The manager also offered some further elaboration on his controversial decision to relegate Kevin Doyle to the standby list.

“It was very difficult but I have many difficult decisions to make,” he admitted.

“In the past, I had a lot difficulty building a team; now I am in difficulty when I choose the players. But I’m very happy that we have this quality and we have also Robbie who came back last week and has scored goals and then we have Sammon, Cox and Long. We have many options.

“Yes, [Kevin] was fantastic [against Kazakhstan] and maybe there is the moment in the near future when he is coming again but at this moment he wasn’t in the best condition psychologically, not physically, but psychologically. And I have to think about the others who are options.”

Reminded that Doyle scored for Wolves on Saturday, the manager parried: “I know about the condition he is in at the moment but there are other strikers with enthusiasm.”

Goalkeeper David Forde was rested for training yesterday while Jon Walters nursed a sore back but Trapattoni said both will take part in today’s session. However, the manager confirmed Walters won’t start in Stockholm on Friday, which would appear to suggest the choice will be between Simon Cox and Andy Keogh to play wide on the right, with either James McClean or Robbie Brady on the opposite flank.

Meanwhile, Trapattoni’s own right-hand man, Marco Tardelli, missed a second day’s training yesterday suffering from fever and upset stomach.

“Marco is sick,” the manager reported. “He was always a strong player but [laughs] maybe he eats something…”

Finally, Trapattoni concluded on a clenched-fist note when asked what he thought his Swedish counterpart, Eric Hamren, meant when he said last week that Ireland would represent a totally different challenge to any other the Swedes can expect to encounter in the group.

“That’s because probably he knows our character and attitude,” said Trapattoni.

“He knows we are a proud country. I think also he knows football, so he knows also our quality. Because we are not just proud, we also have good players.”

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