Glenn Whelan injury scare ahead of Republic's Sweden clash
Giovanni Trapattoni yesterday overlooked James McCarthy for tonight's crunch World Cup qualifier in Sweden – but he may be forced to turn to the Wigan man as doubts grow about Glenn Whelan's fitness.
The Stoke midfielder has been battling an ankle injury since joining up with the squad but, although he was on the pitch as the team did a light training session at the Friends Arena last night, doubts later grew about his place in the starting line-up.
Earlier, Trapattoni has concluded that the dogged work ethic of Paul Green would be essential for the midfield battle alongside Whelan, believing that the Leeds United man would offer superior defensive balance to his team.
Trapattoni also said that McCarthy's play was "not creative" when pressed about the reasons for his omission, however, should Whelan fail to make it, the 74-year-old will be forced to turn to a player he had initially overlooked despite being one of the rare Premier League regulars in his squad.
Trapattoni has, however, gambled on Hull winger Robbie Brady, despite reservations over his aptitude for the task at hand. The Irish boss wants the Dubliner to show he is capable of performing defensive duties to support the offensively minded right-back Seamus Coleman.
Trapattoni challenged the 21-year-old to show that he was in the right frame of mind in last night's training session, and indicated he will keep faith with him for the battle with Ireland's main rivals for a play-off position. Trapattoni will confirm his final decision an hour before kick-off, with Andy Keogh the alternative option.
"I liked how Robbie played against Poland," Trapattoni said. "I have told him he must repeat this game and he promised me he would. It's a psychological thing. I am trying to push him."
As expected, Shane Long will lead the Irish line with Robbie Keane aiming to operate as a link between midfield and the West Brom attacker.
Ciaran Clark has been given the nod ahead of Sean St Ledger to partner John O'Shea in the centre of the defence protecting new No 1 David Forde.
The game will be played under the roof at the Friends Arena, with FIFA set to ratify that decision after the customary delegates meeting this morning.
Belfast Telegraph Digital