Soccer Digest: Giovanni Trapattoni talks UEFA Cup and James McClean


Giovanni Trapattoni has refused to slap a sex ban on his Euro 2012 stars – and James McClean could score in Poland this summer.

Trapattoni confirmed on a flying visit to Ireland over the weekend that his players will be able to enjoy conjugal visits from their partners during the European Championships.

He also told reporters that McClean is now “90 to 99 percent” certain to make the squad while hinting at injury problems for an unnamed senior player.

The sex story enjoyed huge coverage in the Irish media after Trapattoni revealed he has no problems with his players enjoying a little slap and tickle in Poland.

He told the Irish Sun, “I was a player, I know what it’s like but they must be sensible.

“It’s like food -- if you eat, eat, eat, you will end up dead from food. They will have the possibilities to see their families when they have free time.

“If they have a free evening, that’s okay, it’s not a problem but not in the night. We want them to be back with us then.”

The Irish manager visited Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo on Saturday when he helped launch a charity pilgrimage led by Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny.

The Italian later confirmed that Sunderland winger McClean is now a virtual certainty to gatecrash his squad for the European Championship finals after an impressive first season in the Premier League.
“He has a 90 to 99 percent chance of going to Poland. I know he scored again for Sunderland on Saturday,” said Trapattoni.

“But you must wait until May 7 for the squad. We will name 23 then with some options.”

Speculation is now rife that Keith Fahey or Stephen Hunt could lose out to McClean, while James McCarthy of Wigan is another under pressure to make the final squad.

“McCarthy is like some others, he must wait,” added Trapattoni, who also dismissed recent offers to kiss and make up from international exile Stephen Ireland.

“Two years I spoke with him in Birmingham. I chose another team. After the Europeans, we have a long list of young players like McCarthy. What do we do, leave these players out to make a place for him?”

McClean’s Sunderland teammate John O’Shea has no doubts that the winger, who made his debut as a sub against the Czechs in March, can make an impact at the Euros.

O’Shea said, “I was there against the Czech Republic when he came on. I will never forget the reception he got, it was incredible.

“The fans have already taken to him. They have seen the impact he has had. He was fantastic in training, he knew he had to catch the manager’s eye and he certainly did that. He is a bit different.

“I hope he gets in to the squad and he is going the right way about it. He will not be overawed if he did go to the Euros. He will take everything in his stride.

“The manager has a squad which has got him to the finals, so it will be a difficult decision to make. Whether he makes changes we will see.”

No Rangers Mercy

CELTIC manager Neil Lennon wants the Scottish authorities to throw the rule book at crisis club Rangers – even if it means a temporary end to the Old Firm derby.

Lennon’s team won the final derby match of the season, and possibly the last for some time, 3-0 on Sunday.

Rangers boss Ally McCoist suggested afterwards that the club might be allowed some leniency by the Scottish FA, which could remove them from the Premier division in light of their financial woes.

But Lennon sees no need to be lenient. “If you break the rules, you must pay the price. There is an issue of sporting integrity and moral sporting integrity as well,” he said.

“I understand Ally’s point to a certain extent, but if you have flouted the laws in the capacity that they have, then the powers-that-be will punish you accordingly.

“If you break the rules then you should expect to be punished. But you are talking hypothetically here. It is not my place to talk about Rangers, it’s not my place to talk about the outcome of whatever sanctions they are going to get.

“I will leave that to other people and cross that bridge when I come to it.”

Title winning boss Lennon also hit back at those who claimed their title win was “devalued and tainted” by the problems at Rangers.

He said, “The only way it is tainted is if you have won it and you cheated to win it, and we have done nothing wrong. We have played the best football and scored the most goals, conceded the least goals and have the best disciplinary record in the league so we are worthy champions.”

Striker Gary Hooper has confirmed he wants to stay with Celtic and play in the Champions League next season despite strong interest in his services from Premier League newcomers Southampton and Reading.

“There are always rumors about that,” said Hooper. “But I have two years left on my contract, I am scoring goals and I am loving my football.