Ireland soccer team players want a new deal for Giovanni Trapattoni
Kevin Kilbane has joined the calls to reward Giovanni Trapattoni with a new contract before Ireland’s European Championship fate is decided next week.
Trapattoni, whose current €1.8 million a year deal will expire with the nation’s interest in the Euro 2012 competition, has made no secret of his wish to stay on for a third term.
The Italian will be guaranteed an extension from his FAI bosses if wins against Andorra and Armenia in early October seal qualification for the finals in Poland and the Ukraine.
But, like captain Robbie Keane, Kilbane feels a new offer should be put in front of Trap before his squad depart for Andorra and Friday week’s fixture.
“If you look at what the manager has achieved in the last couple of campaigns then yes, you would have to give him a new deal now,” said Kilbane.
“Without a shadow of a doubt he deserves it because he got us so close to the last World Cup and he has us on the verge of qualifying for these European finals.
“We were on our knees when he took over. He has brought his character and his experience and real personality to the job, and he has got us playing in a set way that is very hard to beat.
“He’s got us organized and he’s really got us together as a team, and hopefully we will reap the rewards of that in the next two qualifiers.”
An international veteran with over 100 Irish caps to his name, Derby midfielder Kilbane insists qualification for Euro 2012 would be a massive achievement for this current Ireland squad.
“We can’t deny that we are a small football nation, can we?” he asked ahead of a return to international duty after injury kept him out of the recent draws with Slovakia and Russia.
“We haven’t got a big pool of players to choose from anymore. It is difficult these days for Irish players trying to make a name for themselves in England because of all the overseas imports nowadays.
“When we qualified for the World Cup 10 years ago we had many players in the Premier League and at the top of the Championship playing well.
“They were all getting chances to play for their clubs every week. It is different now so I honestly don’t think that Giovanni Trapattoni could have done any more for us.”
Ahead of those vital games, Trapattoni himself is none too pleased with West Brom counterpart Roy Hodgson -- but he won’t hold it against Baggies striker Shane Long.
Trapattoni lost Long to a calf injury for last month’s big Euro qualifiers against Slovakia and Russia.
The Italian wasn’t impressed when Long played for West Brom at Norwich just four days after he missed the scoreless draw in Moscow.
But his ire is reserved for Hodgson -- and he is threatening to spill the beans when his managerial career comes to an end.
“I will write a book when I’m finished this job,” said Trapattoni when asked why he hadn’t argued his case with the West Brom gaffer.
“I was sure Shane would play, I said to him, ‘I am sure, I will see you play 90 minutes’ ...and he did.
“But Shane Long is 24 years old, I understand his situation, maybe another (older) player can decide, ‘I am okay, or no,’ but I understood him. He’s in new club, he’s Irish, playing in England, I understand.
“My disappointment is for this manager, not for the player. I understand also the manager’s job, because I was club manager for 25 years, with Juventus, Inter, Benfica, Bayern ... but I never asked my players not to play for their country.
“I ask them to speak with the manager, and say they have possibility to play. Then I decide when they come back. I could foresee if the player is tired, and give him maybe an hour play.”
Long, who scored against Chelsea and Manchester United this season, is back in the Ireland squad for the crunch qualifiers away to Andorra and home to Armenia.
Named in the starting team for the draw with Slovakia in September before that injury ruled him out, he could feature as an alternative to Kevin Doyle upfront in Andorra.
“It’s possible he could be a good alternative, because he’s playing regularly,” added Trapattoni.
“Against Russia, we thought his speed would be important against their defenders.
“But it’s not only the player, it’s the tactical situation. We think which striker is better against the opposition. We must prepare like this for every game.
“But we need both players and I you need them to know you trust them. I spoke with Kevin before I put him on bench, I don’t punish him, I said maybe in this moment it’s better to play the last 30 minutes or just an hour. Players deserve respect.”
Trapattoni, meanwhile, has recalled James McCarthy, Jon Walters and Seamus Coleman to his squad for the next two games.
And Ireland captain Keane has opted not to play for the LA Galaxy in New York next Tuesday night and will instead team up with the Ireland squad as normal ahead of the clashes.
Ireland travel to Andorra on Friday, October 2, then host Armenia at the Aviva Stadium the following Tuesday.
The Ireland squad to face Andorra and Armenia is: Shay Given, Keiren Westwood, David Forde, John O’Shea, Kevin Foley, Stephen Kelly, Stephen Ward, Richard Dunne, Kevin Kilbane, Sean St. Ledger, Darren O’Dea, Damien Delaney, Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman, Keith Andrews, Keith Fahey, Andy Keogh, Damien Duff, Aiden McGeady, Stephen Hunt, Liam Lawrence, Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Simon Cox, Jon Walters.
Striker Gary Hooper has declared himself fit ahead of Celtic’s Europa League clash at home to Udinese on Thursday night.
Hooper picked up an injury in the second half of Saturday’s 2-0 win over Inverness when first half goals from Joe Ledley and James Forrest proved decisive.
The English striker returned to training on Tuesday and is looking forward to the Europa League clash.
“It’s going to be a big night against Udinese and hopefully it’s a full crowd. The fans were great on Saturday and hopefully they will be the same against Udinese,” Hooper said.
“They lift the players and get behind us and they’re loud, and they sing in their numbers. We needed them on Saturday and we will need them on Thursday to get behind us and lift us, and we will need to be at our best if we want to keep our run of games going and do well.”
The Inverness win came on the back of big defeats to Atletico Madrid and Rangers and was badly needed by the Hoops.
“We want to do well in the league and in Europe and we want to try and win every game in every competition,” added Hooper.
“Atletico Madrid was a tough game but now we are on our home turf and we can keep attacking, see what they’ve got, and go from there.”
Celtic will be without the ineligible Badr El Kaddouri for Thursday’s game, but Charlie Mulgrew will deputize at left-back. The injured Emilio Izaguirre, Cha Du-ri, Scott Brown and Kelvin Wilson will all miss the game.
With Wilson out for at least 10 weeks, manager Neil Lennon will look to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window.
Lennon said, “We are looking to bring players to the club in January, regardless of the injuries. Hopefully by that time, Emilio, Cha and Kelvin will be fit, but we will have a couple of players maybe coming out of contract near the end of the season and if they are not going to stay then they will have to be replaced.”
Shamrock Rovers and Sligo are neck and neck at the top of the Airtricity League, but the reigning champions have a game in hand on their rivals.
Sligo maintained their recent good form with a 3-0 win at Drogheda last weekend when Rovers hammered 10 man Bray 5-2 in Tallaght.
Bohs beat Galway 3-0 away on Friday night, but then saw their slim title hopes disappear when they lost 2-0 at UCD on Monday night.
St. Pat’s remain on course for Europe after a 2-0 win in Dundalk.
Shamrock Rovers defender Pat Sullivan has been named Airtricity/Soccer Writers player of the month for August after his stunning Europa League goal in Belgrade.
Rovers plays Spurs in London in their next EL league group game on Thursday night.
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