Can leaving the likes of James McClean, Anthony Pilkington and to a lesser extent Marc Tierney at home, in favour of bringing Darren O’Dea, Kevin Foley and Keith Andrews really be beneficial to Ireland’s hopes for this summer’s tournament?
In my opinion Traps excuses of players not fitting in or not being ready are just not strong enough explanations. In fairness I do know what he means to an extent. A unit that has a strong bond and seemingly good understanding such as that, which is outwardly perceivable of the Ireland squad, can be upset by the addition of an outside player. This is especially the case if the player seems to be just parachuting into the squad and is, on the face of it, not worthy of that position. This could cause havoc in a squad and go a long way to breaking up any team spirit, which has been so carefully nurtured to this point. If this was the case then I could understand. But if a player is hardworking, skilful and is in unbelievable form, then it is hard to comprehend a decision to exclude him. This is not like your local Sunday league team whereby it is absolutely amazing the number of players that will come out of the woodwork if any sort of chance at success comes knocking at the teams door. Some of the players that Trap is leaning towards leaving behind are extremely hard working individuals whose only crime seems to be that they have not been noticed before by either their club or their country.
As far as anyone who follows Irish football can see there has always been a strong bond in any Irish squad put together down through the years. So this is not something that Trapattoni has suddenly created. Even under Steve Staunton, when Irish football was going through a (ahem) dry spell, most of the players for the majority of the time; were very supportive of every member of the team. So Trap’s latching onto this tradition and using it as an excuse to leave players out is just not acceptable. This is not amateur football no one is trying to jump on the bandwagon.
James McClean, of the three, has got to be worthy of a place. To date, he has played 13 times for Sunderland and scored 4 goals. He is far and away one of the best Irish players currently plying his trade across the water. So a decision to leave him at home because he is not trusted by the management seems very weak.
Trapattoni though has been let down by players before. Whether this was due to a breakdown in communications because of cultural differences, or to differences due to the language barrier it is unknown and quite a separate discussion. But Trapattoni in his wisdom has decided to go with the age old proverb of being once bitten and twice shy. There will be no exception to that rule this time round and players like James McClean can look forward to watching the Euro’s from the comfort of his couch like the rest of us.