IT looks like it will be the same again for Ireland against Russia on Friday, after Damien Duff and Keith Andrews were both ruled out of the game following recurring injury problems.
Aiden McGeady on the wing and Paul Green in midfield now seem certain starters, as they were against Armenia and Andorra in the opening two qualification games.
Speaking after his squad assembled in Malahide yesterday, Giovanni Trapattoni said a scan showed blood on Damien Duff’s calf muscle, confirming his absence for the Russia game and all but ruling him out of the match against Slovakia next week. “Duff is Duff, he is important but also the other players are important,” said the manager. “He’s very sincere. When he speaks to me, he apologises, he hoped to play. But the muscle is tough and the scan says there is a little blood. We cannot take a risk with him. It’s impossible to put him on the pitch. And I think it’s not possible for him to recover in eight days.”
Like Duff, Keith Andrews is also returning to his club this morning but unlike Duff, has already been officially ruled out of the Slovakia match as well.
Andrews was confined to the bench for Blackburn at the weekend, having previously featured as a 66th-minute sub in their victory over Blackpool, but Trapattoni suggested that the player needs a period of complete rest if he is to fully recover from his groin problem – an observation which can be interpreted as a message to Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn manager with whom Trapattoni has previously tangled over the fitness of Steven Reid.
“With this injury, Andrews can play 20 minutes but then he is injured,” said the Italian. “If he continues to try to play, it will always be so. This injury needs two or three weeks or maybe a month to recover.”
Meanwhile, there is some confusion around Keith Treacy’s unavailability, after the Preston winger had been named on a stand-by list when the original squad was cut back.
Yesterday, Trapattoni said that Treacy – who scored against Reading at the weekend – wanted to come in but that the Preston doctor had insisted he needed to rest to help him recover from an ongoing groin problem.
However Treacy, in reports yesterday, was quoted as saying that he himself felt the need for a break and might even use the international window to return to Dublin to relax with his family.
“I don’t think Trap was too happy when I phoned and told him that I am tired,” he said. “He was surprised because we have only played nine games but I’ve been struggling and need the break.
“I need to make sure I am fit and playing well for Preston and then hopefully I will get the chance to play for my country again. I am going to put my feet up and relax, and I might go back to Dublin to see the family.’’
Trapattoni noted that, when he was manager of Italy, the clubs were always willing to have injured players assessed by the national team’s medical staff.
“But when you speak with clubs in England, it’s a problem of politics,” he said. “The players belong to the clubs. Damien (Duff’s) club didn’t have anything against him coming over but Preston didn’t want Treacy to come. Our doctor’s hands are tied.”
Meanwhile, with Darren O’ Dea also ruled out with a knee injury, Trapattoni has called up Stoke City’s Marc Wilson as additional defensive cover.
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