Darron Gibson is the latest big name player to rule himself out of Ireland’s big European Championship qualifier in Macedonia on Saturday – after sending a text message to a bemused Giovanni Trapattoni.
Gibson has joined the suspended Richard Dunne, the injured Damien Duff, Jon Walters and Kevin Doyle and the missing Anthony Stokes, Marc Wilson and James McCarthy on the absentee list for Skopje.
The Manchester United midfielder officially withdrew with a new groin injury – even though he hasn’t played a game for Manchester United since the Champions League semi-final win over Schalke last month.
“Gibson has sent us an SMS,” said Trapattoni who actually started to laugh when he explained the ‘injury’ that has ruled the United midfielder out.
“It’s his groin. In the world it is always the groin! Also in Italy, when you don’t know, it’s the groin! It’s the new disease. It’s always groin. It’s impossible to look.”
Manchester United defender John O’Shea, Huddersfield’s Kevin Kilbane, Spartak Moscow’s Aiden McGeady and Reading’s Shane Long all reported to the Irish camp on Tuesday after club commitments kept them away from the Carling Nations Cup games.
With Gibson gone and Keith Fahey carrying a knee injury, Trapattoni is likely to turn to Blackburn midfielder Keith Andrews as Glenn Whelan’s partner on Saturday.
The Irish boss has reacted to criticism from Reading’s former international Ian Harte that he doesn’t bother to watch Ireland players in action for their clubs and has also refuted claims by his one time assistant Liam Brady that a media campaign is underway to get Trap out of his job.
“I can learn more from DVDs,” said Trapattoni in response to Harte’s weekend criticism. “About 80pc of the players I have gone to see usually didn’t play, or played only 10 minutes.
“In one day, on television or DVD, I can see three or four games every Saturday, every Sunday. As well as that, we have not only Marco watching players but three or four scouts giving us references.
“Harte? We know Harte. Stephen Ward for me now is better. He can improve. Harte is 33. I already said that we look to improve this squad. Or else we stay again with Lee Carsley, with Steven Reid.
“In the past, it was like this. Now, in two years we have changed the squad and brought in many young players. Who knew about Simon Cox before? We look for young energy, for fresh energy.”
The Italian also denied Brady’s claims on RTE television about a media witch-hunt to have him sacked as manager.
“I never said this,” said Trapattoni. “I don’t know, maybe Liam lives in London. I haven’t this opinion. Maybe he lives in England and there was with Ancelotti maybe, also with Mancini, Capello. We are Italian. Maybe I can’t think this.
“When I meet people in the city, they are happy. I think we have made, until now, a good job.”