Giovanni Trapattoni has warned Darron Gibson that there are plenty of other midfielders queuing up to take his place in the Republic of Ireland squad should the Everton player decide to prolong his exile from the international arena.
Ireland begin their World Cup qualifying campaign on Friday when they visit Kazakhstan, but they will be without Gibson, who has made himself unavailable for the game, and for the friendly against Oman four days later.
Shorn of Keith Andrews through suspension and injury victim Paul Green, Trapattoni was thinking about slotting Gibson in to his midfield, but the 24-year-old refused a call-up as he is still suffering from the disappointment of Euro 2012.
Gibson put in a series of fine displays since moving to Everton in January, but the former Manchester United man was left disillusioned with Trapattoni and the Ireland set-up when he did not make it off the bench during the country’s dismal Euro 2012 campaign.
Trapattoni said today that he respected Gibson’s decision, but the Italian also insisted that Ireland would be able to cope fine without him.
“In the past we were frightened about missing players, but now we already have a squad,” Trapattoni told a press conference.
“He can think about it or we go with other players. We have David Meyler, Marc Wilson, then there is Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy. All can play (in midfield), and coming back we also have (Keith) Andrews.
“When we come here, if there are players who are not coming, we build the other team. We have been watching also new players, maybe we will discover a new Irish player. He has to decide whether he wants to play or not.”
Gibson came through the ranks at Manchester United but despite scoring a few spectacular goals during a six-year spell in and around the first-team squad, he only made 60 appearances.
The midfielder, who was born in Northern Ireland but opted to play for the Republic, told Trapattoni he would not like to be considered for the upcoming international fixtures during a telephone conversation on Friday.
“I spoke with Gibson for a long time,” Trapattoni said.
“He explained to me that he was disappointed. I understood but I said to him that we were all disappointed after the defeats in the Euro campaign, but I said that this is a time for a new opportunity (for Ireland).”
Trapattoni defended his decision to overlook Gibson for the entire Euro 2012 campaign, claiming that he could have played the midfielder against Italy in the final group game but did not want to make it look as if he was making changes to favour his home nation.
“It was impossible to change,” the 73-year-old said. “With 20 minutes to go in our match Italy could have gone out and Croatia could qualify. If we changed it and we lost it would have looked like I favoured Italy.”
Trapattoni’s men went in to Euro 2012 on the back of a 14-match unbeaten run, but they were soundly beaten in all three of their matches against Croatia, Spain and Italy, raising questions about Trap's future.
Trapattoni has held on to his position, but he knows he is likely to be out of a job should his team perform poorly in their World Cup qualification campaign.
To make matters worse, Ireland’s qualification group contains Germany and Sweden and Trapattoni will also have to do without Damien Duff and Shay Given, who both retired following Euro 2012.
The enigmatic Italian was in a bullish mood about his team’s chances after their first training session in Malahide today, however.
“We must be proud starting this new campaign and we must have the willingness to take revenge,” he said.
Trapattoni reported no injury concerns ahead of Friday’s game in the former Soviet republic.
Aidan McGeady and Robbie Keane will start training with the team tomorrow after they were granted an extra day to fly to Dublin from Spartak Moscow and the Los Angeles Galaxy respectively.