Sports Digest: Giovanni Trapattoni doesn’t want Stephen Ireland to return


Giovanni Trapattoni will ignore Stephen Ireland’s vague interest in an Irish recall despite the player’s return to form with Aston Villa.

Trap refused to comment on weekend quotes from Ireland, who said he would consider an offer to return to the international fold if the Italian picked up the phone.

Sources close to Trapattoni, however, believe he has no interest in making such a call before the Euros to Ireland, who last played for his country in 2007 before claiming his granny had died, which proved to be a lie.

“I don’t think about it,” said Ireland when asked if he had any ambitions to play at the Euro finals this summer.

“My first step was to get back into the team here and now I’ve done that. My next target is to get as many goals and assists between now and the end of the season.

“I’m taking one step at a time and I’ll happily just play club football. I’ve been out of it for so long that I’m not going to miss playing for Ireland. I’m not sure what’s round the corner.

“It’s not on my mind because I have not been approached in such a long time -- maybe two years. If something comes to me then I’ll see, but other than that, I will just get on with my football here.”

Meanwhile, Trapattoni will tell his players to carry on drinking at the European Championship finals -- but not to excess.

The Ireland manager has no plans to impose a booze ban on his players in Poland this summer.
Trap will allow Robbie Keane and his teammates to have a beer or two after their games against Croatia, Spain and Italy, but he will monitor their drinking.

“No, we will not ban alcohol,” insisted Trapattoni. “Drink is okay for the players so long as they don’t get drunk.

“We will allow them to drink beer. My experience in Italy is that now and then players need to have a drink a beer or wine. Drinking with reason is allowed.”

Trap will keep strict tabs on his players socializing in Poland after admitting that Stoke defender Marc Wilson has to apologize for a recent incident before he can return to the squad.

“I will not say what happened but he needs to say sorry and say that he made a great mistake,” added Trapattoni, with a clear hint that Wilson will not feature in the Ireland squad going to the Euros.

One player who looks nailed on for a seat on the plane to Poznan and Gdansk is the Wigan midfielder James McCarthy, who has been receiving pep talks from Trap by text.

“James McCarthy is one for now, not one for the future,” said the Italian coach.

“I like his commitment and I have told him that. I have texted him and told him to call for the ball, to talk a lot more on the pitch.

“For me, he is still a little bit shy on the pitch. He can grow more and do better. I would like him to take a better position because he can play midfielder or as a second striker.

“His manager at Wigan is very good with him. Sometimes he is left or right, sometimes he is behind the striker.

“He has not decided his position. James has good quality, he can grow in every game. There is an opportunity now for him to grow.”

In London to watch winger James McClean in action for Sunderland at Chelsea on Saturday, Trapattoni insisted there is only one place at most up for grabs in his Euro squad.

“If a player can convince me between now and then that he is better in his position or in a role then maybe we can decide to bring him with us but not too many players, only one,” he said.

“We have enough players who we can trust for the Europeans and we must be loyal to the players who got us here.

“In the future we can change but slow, slow, slow. In the next month we will follow McLean at Sunderland and Pilkington and Tierney at Norwich.

“They may get a chance against the Czech Republic in February but it will be difficult to get into the Euro squads. Already I know I will have to leave players out and I am disappointed with that.”
Hooper Not For Sale
CELTIC manager Neil Lennon has no intention of selling star striker Gary Hooper in the January transfer money, after rejecting another bid from Championship contenders Southampton.
Hooper proved his worth again with the first goal as Celtic beat Dundee United 2-1 at Parkhead on

Saturday as the Bhoys moved two points clear of Rangers at the top of the Scottish League table.
Midfielder Victor Wanyama got the second goal for Celtic, and afterwards Lennon was adamant that Hooper will stay with the team after his 16th goal of the season.

“When we have players like Ki Sung-yueng, Beram Kayal, Emilio Izaguirre, Hooper and James Forrest, they are not going to go cheap, that’s for sure,” said Lennon.

“They will have to pay proper money. I don’t need to speak to the board, they know my position. Everyone has their price. We are not a selling club but everyone has their price.