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Stephen Ireland Photo by: Google Images

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

\"Stephen

Stephen Ireland Photo by: Google Images

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.

“The problem is if we get a knockout price, will we have time to replace someone like Gary Hooper? Trust me, they are hard to find.

“I have spoken to Gary, I am keeping him up to date. I think he is very happy here. I think Celtic and Gary suit each other, he is a Celtic type of player, strong, great finisher, great feet and his goal record speaks for itself.”

Hooper himself is adamant he wants to stay at Celtic. He told Celtic’s official website, “I’m very happy. I’m back playing now and scored at the weekend. It was good to be back in the team

“I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m a Celtic player and very happy here, winning games for Celtic and we’re two points clear at the top of the league just now.”

Celtic’s Irish defender Darren O’Dea, meanwhile, has confirmed that he wants to turn his season long loan move to Leeds into a permanent deal before the transfer window closes.

“If something could be done in January, it certainly would appeal to me to move,” O’Dea told the Irish Independent. “I’m at the stage of my life, and career, where I need to settle.

“I have been on loan three times now -- this my third year in a row -- and with a wife and kid I want to get a permanent base.”
 
Keane Hungry
ROBBIE Keane wants to do a Thierry Henry on it -- and quickly get among the goals for Aston Villa after completing his two month loan deal from the LA Galaxy.

The Irish captain made his Villa debut as a second-half substitute in the 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday when Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan played for the visitors after his loan move from the MLS.

Henry, on loan at Arsenal from the New York Red Bulls, has made an immediate impact on his return to England with a goal against Leeds in the FA Cup, and Keane would like to follow suit with Villa ASAP.

“Can I do a Thierry Henry? I hope so. It would be great to do that,” said Keane. “It was written that he was always going to come back and score on his return to Arsenal.

“Good luck to him, he is obviously a legend at Arsenal. If I can do something like that in the six league games, and help the team, that is great.

“What impact can one player make in six games or so? Hopefully it will be a good one. I hope it works out well for both parties. I don’t think I’m running a risk, no.

“I’ve had a good career in the Premiership and scored a lot of goals. When you get older and play the amount of games I have played, you get wiser, you read the game better than you do when you were 17.

“I will be doing my utmost to help the team and make as much impact as I can in the seven weeks I am here.”
 
Sheppard Transfers
READING have completed the transfer of Irish under-21 striker Karl Sheppard, available on a free after his contract with Shamrock Rovers expired in December.

Sheppard has followed several current Ireland internationals to Reading and said, “It was massive, seeing the likes of Kevin Doyle and Shane Long come over and do well, and Noel and Stephen Hunt as well, it’s a good thing.

“The history of bringing good Irish players through is something that intrigued me coming here. There was interest from a few other Championship clubs as well but once I heard that Reading were in, there was only one club for me.

“I’m buzzing for it, I can’t wait. It’s been a month since my last game so getting fitness is obviously something that I need to do and then hopefully I can break into the team.”
 
Busy Kenny
NEW Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Kenny has wasted no time signing players ahead of his first season in charge of the League of Ireland champions.

Defender Graham Gartland has returned home from St. Johnstone in Scotland while Killian Brennan has arrived from Bohs and striker Daryl Kavanagh from St. Pat’s.
Winger Billy Dennehy has agreed to stay with the Hoops and has signed a new contract.

Kenny will be assisted in Tallaght by former Newcastle, Hibernian and Dunfermline player Stephen Glass while Colin Hawkins joins the club as a player-coach.  Former Hoops player Stephen O’Brien returns as goalkeeping coach.
 

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