Giovanni Trapattoni says that Seamus Coleman has the potential to deliver at the highest level in football and could even go on to merit comparison with two of Italy’s most celebrated full-backs, the 1982 World Cup winning pair of Claudio Gentile and Antonio Cabrini.
Identifying Coleman — named man of the match in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw in Wembley — as a player who has filled the gap in the Irish team left by Steve Finnan, Trapattoni went on to heap praise on the ‘Donegal Express’.
“At Juventus in the past there was Gentile who would score four or five goals a season and, at left back, there was Cabrini who also got forward and scored goals,” said the former Juve manager. “Coleman has this potential, sure. He is young and has good personality. He’s clever and intelligent.
“In the past, I have always said that midfield is not just four players, it’s six players including the full backs. Now we have this with Coleman, who can go forward and back. He’s fantastic.”
Trapattoni also praised the Killybegs man’s growing defensive nous, saying he had taken on board the manager’s advice not to dive in against speedy opponents. However, Trapattoni also cautioned that Coleman still needs to work on his judgement in risky areas, pointing out that he had given away a corner under pressure from Daniel Sturridge at Wembley having tried to dribble his way out of a tight spot.
“It’s ok to lose the ball away from the box but not near the box,” the manager said with a rueful smile. “Over there you can do what you want. Here, no. Remember the disaster against Austria? (Ciaran) Clark tries to dribble out, the opponent takes the ball and they score. Only with more experience can a player learn to choose the right situation.”
Although delighted with his team’s draw in Wembley — and singling out James McCarthy and Shane Long, as well as Coleman for special plaudits — Trapattoni has already been at pains to remind his charges that Sunday’s game against Georgia will not be “a walk in the park”. But with one eye on the crucial World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands next Friday, the Italian will not be taking any unnecessary chances with his first-choice players this weekend.
Promising a more experimental line-up for the visit of the Georgians, he said that Wes Hoolahan “could start” while Jeff Hendrick seems set to replace Glenn Whelan who will definitely be rested. McCarthy and Long are both suspended for the Faroes game and so won’t start on Sunday, though they may come off the bench later on as the manager takes the opportunity to rotate his personnel.
Goalkeeper David Forde was wearing strapping on his knee after training in Malahide yesterday and won’t be risked in the game, with Keiren Westwood set to start and Darren Randolph likely to see action in the second half. However, Marc Wilson is expected to play from the off, given that the manager wants to see if the Stoke man is fully over his calf problem and so available to resume his place at left-back against the Faroes.
With Robbie Keane edging ever close to the caps record, the skipper is likely to get some game time on Sunday as, of course, will his long-time international colleague Richard Dunne who is finally on the brink of kicking a football in anger for the first time in nearly a year. Trapattoni confirmed: “I have spoken with him and I have already said he will play some of the game on Sunday.”
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