Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni will tell his players to curb their drinking habits in the wake of reported bust-ups behind the scenes when they meet up for the Croatia friendly next month.
Trapattoni has neither confirmed nor denied reports of a dispute between a senior player and a member of his backroom staff during the Carling Nations Cup in May.
The Ireland boss has even bizarrely admitted that he likes an element of tension around his squad after warning his players to change their refueling habits.
“I have told the players a number of times since I came here that they need to change,” confessed Trapattoni after naming his squad for the August friendly against Croatia.
“They have to have a little more responsibility in their work and their mentality. To live this type of intense life you need to be a very well-balanced professional.
“It is okay to have a drink after a game. That is the habit, not in Italy but in this part of the world.
“But if you are falling over you cannot train properly the next day. That is what I repeat to the players.
“It is important for the players to have one evening off after a game but then they must prepare properly for the next five or six days.
“They have to stay professional -- for themselves and for the Irish fans who pay for the tickets to see their team.
“They must be professional. I believe we have changed this mentality, maybe only a little bit but we have changed it.”
Trapattoni insisted he is still seeking “clarity” regarding the alleged incident at the team’s Portmarnock hotel in the hours after the Carling Nations Cup game against Northern Ireland in May.
Having encountered many such problems on his 35-year career as a manager, Trap doesn’t appear to be unduly worried about such problems.
“In my experience a little bit of tension is important,” claimed the former Italy boss.
“Sometimes it is good to have this in a squad. I have had many teams and many great players and it is better not to let the adrenaline go down.
“A little bit of tension is good. You must always be on the edge, always ready. For the players and the team, this is important.”
Tanned and relaxed after a holiday in Sardinia marred only a decision to watch the “unbelievable” video nasty that was the Dublin defeat to Russia several times over, Trapattoni is ready for his new season with Ireland.
He also admits it could be his last as the FAI await Ireland’s Euro fate before opening talks on a new contract with the Italian.
“This could be my last season with Ireland but I wish to clarify that I understand the FAI’s position,” added Trapattoni.
“Obviously I would be sad if I don’t get to finish the job I started with Ireland. The team is evolving and growing but we are not finished our job here yet.
“I would be sorry but there are other countries who ask me what will I do when my contract with the FAI is over. There are other countries.”
James McCarthy, Darron Gibson, Marc Wilson and Jonathan Walters get another chance in the Ireland squad after missing the end of season games but there’s no place in the squad for Anthony Stokes.
The Ireland squad to play Croatia is: Given (Man City), Westwood (Sunderland), Forde (Millwall); O’Shea (Sunderland), McShane (Hull), Foley (Wolves), Kelly (Fulham), Dunne (Aston Villa), St. Ledger (Leicester), O’Dea (Celtic), Delaney (Ipswich), Clark (Aston Villa); Kilbane (Hull), Ward (Wolves), Coleman (Everton), Gibson (Manchester United), Whelan (Stoke), Andrews (Blackburn), Fahey (Birmingham), Hunt (Wolves), Lawrence (Portsmouth), McCarthy (Wigan), Treacy (Preston), Wilson (Stoke), Duff (Fulham), McGeady (Spartak Moscow); Keogh (Wolves), Keane (Tottenham), Doyle (Wolves), Walters (Stoke), Long (Reading), Cox (West Brom).
Shay Given moves
Irish goalkeeper Shay Given has completed his move from Manchester City to Aston Villa and signed a five-year contract with the Premier League club.
Given, now 35, will finish his career at Villa Park after becoming new manager Alex McLeish’s first signing in a £3 million deal.
Two years after he left Newcastle for City, Given is on the move again and looking forward to a fresh start with Villa.
“Everyone knows that I didn’t play enough football last season, so I’m really pleased that I’ll be able to put that right here,” said Given.
“Hopefully, this move will get me back to where I was before in the Premier League, which is where every player wants to be playing.
“Aston Villa is a huge football club and I’m really excited to be joining. I’m looking forward to training and playing with the players here. They’re a good bunch of lads, very talented and I know several of them already which will help.
“Obviously, I’m also excited to be working with Alex McLeish and it’s going to be a fresh start for everybody at the club this season.
“It’s also a new challenge and one I’m eager to embrace. My aim is to impress the Aston Villa supporters with my performances and I can’t wait really to get started.”
Celtic kick-off the Scottish season this weekend, with manager Neil Lennon determined to celebrate his new deal by stopping Rangers from lifting a third successive title.
Lennon declared, “Three years without the title is a long time for us. I think it is imperative that we do win it.
“From my own point of view, if you go two years as an Old Firm manager without a title, it might be very difficult to keep your job.
“We want to make inroads into Europe as well because we feel we have players who are capable of performing well at European level too.”
Celtic have taken South African striker Katlego Mphela on trial while manager Lennon is still working on a new contract for captain Scott Brown.
Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa will also spend time with Celtic on trial.
League leaders Sligo Rovers served notice of their title intentions with a thumping 8-0 win over hosts Galway United in the Premier Division of the League of Ireland on Friday night.
Champions Shamrock Rovers scraped a 1-0 win at Drogheda thanks a late Gary Twigg goal while Derry beat Bray 2-1 and Dundalk beat UCD 2-0.
Europa League contestants Bohemians, beaten 2-0 away to Olimpija Ljubljana, and St Patrick’s Athletic, who lost 2-1 at Shakhter Karagandy in Kazakhstan, didn’t play due to their European exertions.
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STRUGGLING Airtricity League Premier Division side UCD beat Spanish visitors Villarreal 4-3 in a friendly.
All-Black legend Jonah Lomu has tipped Ireland as an outside bet for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this autumn.
“If there’s a team that you have to be wary about, and not many people are talking about them, it’s Ireland,” said Lomu. “It’s purely because I’ve watched a lot of their teams. I’ve watched Leinster play in the Heineken Cup and they were very impressive, especially up front.
“A lot of those players are coming to the end of their career and they’ll put everything on the line.”
In other rugby news, Ronan O’Gara has handed Ireland coach Declan Kidney a World Cup scare after tearing a calf muscle in pre-season training.
And Thomond Park in Limerick has submitted a bid to host the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
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