Soccer Digest: Aiden McGeady ready for Euro challenge


Former Celtic winger Aiden McGeady won the man of the match award as a second half substitute in Ireland’s 1-0 win over Bosnia on Saturday, then claimed he has nothing to prove to manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

McGeady is under threat from the arrival of James McClean onto the international scene, but appeared to book his place for the Euro opener against Croatia with Saturday’s performance.

“You can’t be much more pleased than coming on for 45 minutes and getting the man of the match award,” said McGeady afterwards.

“I was a bit surprised to be honest when I heard my name being put over the tannoy. Obviously it was very pleasing.

“I don’t have anything to prove to the manager. It is possibly some fans or some pundits that doubt me, or whatever.

“But the manager, I don’t think I have anything to prove to because he said to me before the game that you are in great form just now and we want to keep you fresh for the games coming up.”

Trapattoni praised McGeady afterwards. He said, “When we arrived here, McGeady was already a very good player, but every young player needs confidence.

“Now he is playing, playing, playing in another country, different football, and he is getting more confidence. Now McGeady is one of our strongest players.”

Irish captain Robbie Keane also praised McGeady and full debutant James McClean.

Keane said, “Aiden McGeady can light up the championship. I don’t want to put any pressure on him but he’s one player who can certainly make a difference to our team.

“James McClean did ever so well on Saturday, for somebody playing in his first full international.But I thought Aiden did superbly well.

“Every player needs competition, it keeps them on their toes. James came in and did very well, he’s doing well for Sunderland. So the competition for places is good.”

Keane has dismissed all fears about his fitness ahead of the Croatia game on Sunday, June 10.

The LA Galaxy striker arrived in Ireland with a hamstring injury and then damaged ribs in an accidental clash during Saturday’s win.

“The hamstring is fine but the ribs are in bits after that knee. Ah na, it’s fine,” said Keane. “I just found it hard to breathe. It took a few minutes to catch my breath again. It’s a little bit sore but it’s nothing too serious.

“It was all fairly innocuous, they are the sort of challenges you expect. My form hasn’t been too good but I feel fine now, though, and quite sharp.”

Speaking after the win, when his replacement Shane Long scored the only goal, Keane insisted he was happy with the outcome of Ireland’s final home before the Euros.

He added, “All the team played well really, it was important to get a win before we departed. It will give us a lot of confidence

“Bosnia are a very similar team to Croatia. They like to get the ball down and pass it. They did that a lot in the first half but didn’t really bother us too much after that. And then we managed to create a few chances ourselves.”
Trap’s Indecision

IRELAND boss Giovanni Trapattoni refused to confirm his final Euro 2012 squad early this week, and warned his walking wounded they must prove their fitness against Hungary in Budapest on Monday.

After losing Keith Fahey to a groin injury on Saturday night, Trapattoni won’t take any chances with the likes of Shay Given, John O’Shea, Darren O’Dea, Kevin Foley and Stephen Kelly who are all receiving treatment for knocks at the team’s Italian training camp.

Ireland were due to play a low key friendly against a local side in Italy on Tuesday night and will wrap up their Euro preparations against Hungary next Monday when all players must prove they are fit for the opening game against Croatia.

Given (knee) and O’Shea (ankle) are causing most concern but they did manage some light training on Monday.

“They will have to show us on Monday they are ready. Richard Dunne showed that to us on Friday,” said Trapattoni.

Trapattoni expects Given to return to full training on Wednesday with O’Shea to follow later in the week. “Given is all right for Wednesday training and John O’Shea will be 90% ready to play,” he said.

Paul Green has revealed his shock at his Euro 2012 call-up but insisted, “I’m good enough to play in the championships.”

The midfielder, who left Derby County when his contract expired at the end of the season, was a late call-up when Birmingham’s Fahey was ruled out.

Many pundits have criticized Trapattoni’s decision to opt for Green ahead of Wes Hoolahan but the midfielder insisted, “Everybody is allowed their opinion. I just come out here and do what I can.

“I think I can cope at this level. I would not be out here and I don’t think the manager would have me here if he did not think that.”
Hooper’s Move
CELTIC striker Gary Hooper fancies a move to Barcelona – but only after his Parkhead contract expires in 2014.