Giovanni Trapattoni is ready to take the European Championships – and England – by surprise in Poland and the Ukraine next year.
The Irish boss has no fear whatsoever about a summer date with the English, either in the Euro 2012 finals or in the build-up to his team’s return to the big stage.
Trap even revealed that he has been persecuting fellow Italian Fabio Capello for a game for some time now and hopes to finally get his way in some shape or form next year.
The FAI are close to a deal to bring England to Dublin if the teams are kept apart in the Euro draw but Trap doesn’t care where he takes on Capello.
“I have asked Fabio many times for Ireland to play England so I too would like to play them next year – if not in the European Championships then before we both go to the finals,” said Trapattoni.
“When I have tried to play him before, he has always said yes but then England have had other games arranged. He promised me that we would do it in the future and I hope we do.
“I relish this sort of game and I understand it. When I was a manager in Austria, I wanted to play the German teams. In Portugal, we wanted Spain. In Italy, we want to play the German national side.
“It is good, this rivalry and even if we play England in a friendly, I know it will not be a friendly game. My players will want to win it, that is natural. So will I.
“England are similar to us, they have the same system under Fabio that I have with England but maybe they have the two or three individual players who make a difference, like Rooney. I like Rooney.”
Fresh from the Euro-phoria surrounding the play-off win over Estonia, Trapattoni has turned his attentions to the championship draw in Kiev on Friday week.
“We will deserve respect in the European finals next summer – the European Championships is a tougher tournament than the World Cup but we have the right mentality for it now,” insisted Trapattoni, who plans to travel to the Ukraine next week.
“We could get the big teams in Europe but it does not worry me because we have shown that we are a strong team, that we can compete.
“In my experience there is always a surprise team in these tournaments so why no Ireland? I am convinced that we can get past the first phase, that we can make it to the quarter-finals no matter who we draw.
“My players want to achieve that. They believe now what I have been telling them for three years – Ireland is a strong team and Ireland is a team that will do well in the finals.”
Working off a 26 man squad of late, Trapattoni knows he will have to deliver bad news to some of the players who have served him well in the recent past when he cuts his travelling party down to 23.
He has already all but retired Kevin Kilbane and won’t be afraid to tell others the Euro party is over before next summer’s finals.
Liam Lawrence, Paul McShane, Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy and Andy Keogh are just of the players in the firing line when Trap has to narrow his options at the end of the season.
“We will pick the final squad on merit, not on loyalty,” insisted Trapattoni. “You must pick the players on form and fitness.”