Trappatoni says Dunne will be at Euro 2012
Giovanni Trapattoni has allayed fears that Richard Dunne could be a doubt for Euro 2012 and expects the big Dubliner to return to action before the end of Aston Villa's Premier League campaign.
Some weekend reports suggested that Dunne could miss the remainder of the English season, but Trapattoni says that the broken collarbone victim should begin the comeback trail in three to four weeks. "He said he will play one or two games before the end of the season," reported the Italian.
Dunne is arguably Trapattoni's most important player. He was pivotal to the successful qualification, and was last night named the International Player of the Year on account of his heroics.
His centre-half partner in the famous backs-to-the-wall effort in Moscow, Darren O'Dea, collected the Young Player of the Year award.
The unavailability of Dunne for Wednesday's friendly with Czech Republic has opened the door for Everton's rising star Shane Duffy to link up with the squad for the first time since his near-death experience in a training match in Malahide two years ago.
He was back at Gannon Park yesterday along with fellow Derryman James McClean, in the party for the first time.
Trapattoni watched McClean in Sunderland's thrashing at West Brom on Saturday -- an unfortunate time for the winger to suffer a bad day -- but the Irish boss says that the entire Sunderland team struggled.
The 72-year-old hinted that McClean and Duffy will win their first caps in the Lansdowne Road friendly, although the manager has made similar comments about other players in the past and then the circumstances of the game changed things.
Still, McClean is in the manager's thoughts, and when asked if the 22-year-old could force his way into his Euro 2012 thinking, Trapattoni didn't exactly dismiss the question.
"In this position, we have many many wingers but we are confident that he can be an important player for us, now or in the future," said Trapattoni.
"It's good that we have these difficult choices to make now, isn't it? Now we have 30 players, 33, 35. A few years ago we only had eight or nine to choose."
Midfielder Keith Andrews believes there will be nothing friendly about the Czech game with Euro places at stake.
Form man Andrews, who is enjoying life after his deadline-day move to West Brom, is certain of his spot on the plane, but is keen to cement his place in the starting XI.
That's why he wants to stick around for the week despite a slight groin complaint. Keith Fahey and Stephen Kelly are also struggling.
"There's only going to be 23 on the plane and competition will be rife," said Andrews.
"Obviously the squad (for Wednesday) was named initially with 24 people and some were left out, but a couple of new faces have come in and that's the nature of the beast. It keeps people on their toes. Places are up for grabs."
Other award winners last night included Manchester United youngster Robbie Brady, currently on loan at Hull, who picked up the U-21 gong.
Former Shamrock Rovers man Pat Sullivan saw off McClean to be named the League of Ireland player of 2011.