Belfast Telegraph

Trap will close World Cup door on Ireland

Giovanni Trapattoni has told Stephen Ireland that he won't be welcome back in the Irish camp if qualification for the World Cup is secured.

The door is still open for the Manchester City midfielder to make himself available to contribute to the battle to get to South Africa, but he has refused to take up that option.

And now the 22-year-old has been warned by the Irish boss — in the clearest possible terms — that it won't be acceptable to come back with cap in hand should the ticket to South Africa be booked.

"Obviously if we qualify with this group, he cannot say at the last minute 'I am available', he can't make himself available," said Trapattoni, speaking yesterday morning after Wednesday's dramatic 2-1 win over Georgia at Croke Park.

"Not for him, but out of respect for the others. He has to show his Irishness and his willingness to play for Ireland."

Trapattoni won’t rule out a role for any his midfield exiles in the remainder of the battle to top Group 8, although the others out of the picture — Andy Reid and Lee Carsley — are in that position because of the manager's choice.

"I am not excluding any possibility, I have never excluded any possibility with Reid or Ireland. Also, Carsley," said Trapattoni.

"If there is injury or suspension, I need to call in other players, but a team is strong when a team is compact, consistency comes with practice so you cannot keep changing players because it changes the system and changes the habit.

"In the future, I will look and see many players. I will look at Sunderland or Manchester City.

"We have already discussed about Ireland. When he decides he wishes to come back then we'll take him into consideration."

Meanwhile Kevin Doyle has warned Italy coach Marcello Lippi there is much more to come from the Republic of Ireland as they prepare to go head-to-head with the reigning world champions.

Trapattoni's men will travel to his native country on April 1 for a game that could go a long way towards deciding the destiny of World Cup qualifying Group Eight.

The Republic entertain Bulgaria at Croke Park on March 28 with Lippi's side facing a tricky trip to Montenegro on the same night.

Should the teams remain locked together before they meet in Bari, a positive result for Ireland on the night would give them an unexpected psychological advantage.

Lippi was in Dublin to see his compatriot guide his team to a fightback victory over the Georgians to maintain their unbeaten record in the group.

The Republic were not at their best, certainly in the first-half, although Doyle admits that could work in their favour.

He said: "Italy had their manager there, so I am glad we didn't play too well in front of him — we don't want him too worried about us.

"We want them to be pretty cocky and confident and not take us too seriously."

Belfast Telegraph


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