Giovanni Trapattoni may be forced into an embarrassing u-turn to send a World Cup SOS to veteran defender Richard Dunne.
Less than a month after suggesting that Dunne’s international career could be over, Trap faces a defensive headache for the make or break clashes with Sweden and Austria.
Regular center-back Sean St. Ledger was forced out of the squad for the two September games ahead of Wednesday’s season opening friendly against Wales in Cardiff.
His absence is a huge blow for Trapattoni who knows his team must beat Sweden in Dublin and at least draw in Vienna to retain any hope of the World Cup playoffs.
Sunderland’s John O’Shea, former Celt Darren O’Dea and Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark are the direct replacements for Dunne in the squad to face Wales but Dunne, now back in club action with new outfit QPR, offers experience for those vital games.
And Trapattoni may have to bite his lip and make a call to the big Dubliner who started QPR’s first two games back in the championship on the bench.
The Italian insists he will call on Dunne as soon as the player proves his fitness with QPR after sitting out all last season at Aston Villa.
“I will give the opportunity to see him in the next future,” Trapattoni said.
“But at the minute, we have O’Dea and O’Shea and Clark. We have the central defenders. This player needs one, two, three, four games and after that we know for sure.”
St. Ledger’s club boss Nigel Pearson has confirmed that the Leicester City defender could be out for up to six weeks after injuring his knee in training last Friday.
“It happens and it’s unfortunate, but historically he’s been a pretty quick healer, so six weeks is probably being a bit pessimistic,” said Pearson.
“It might be three or four weeks but it will be what it will be. You can’t do a lot about contact injuries. I’d be annoyed if it was something avoidable, but you can’t do much about it. It’s not ideal and it’s disappointing for Ledge, but that’s football.”
Dunne may get his chance against Sweden and Austria, but Kevin Doyle’s international career appears all but over after Yeovil Town striker Paddy Madden received a late call-up for the Wales game after Simon Cox withdrew through injury.
Doyle is back in first team action at Wolves and Trapattoni claims he is still in his plans, but the latest snub has done the Wexford man no favors.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s game, Trap said, “I have Doyle in my heart. I promise him we will continue to follow him.
“But it is important to look around, with players like Paddy Madden and Simon Cox we can look to the future. We have many strikers.
“If I had called him in for this game, maybe he would be on the bench and not play which would not help his confidence, and I have to do what I feel is right.”
The Ireland boss is also encouraging Doyle to quit Molineux and play at a higher level.
He said, “It would be better as he can try and regain confidence. Many times I have said to you strikers depend on the support of their team.
“Without the team to give you the ball to score it is impossible. Kevin is an intelligent player. I think it is important for him to get another opportunity, whether the money is 20 percent more or 20 percent less. It’s important to go to a club to play. It depends on his agent.”
Norwich star Anthony Pilkington again withdrew from the squad ahead of the Wales game, but Trapattoni is prepared to wait for the winger.
He said, “He told me his knee is swollen, he has been having injections and he has pain and I am confident about the professional doctor.
“The doctor is important, he is not a manager. It is a specialist position with a big responsibility.
“The clubs pay the players and they can tell them not to report for international duty. I have asked FIFA and UEFA to have rules where when a player is called by his country he must go. But for UEFA and FIFA you cannot take control over the clubs.
“Only if FIFA and UEFA introduce an obligation in the rules can our federation say you have to come here to be checked before you go back. But the club are personal shareholders of the players.”