Belfast Telegraph

Trapattoni to go with young guns in Republic's Uruguay friendly

Giovanni Trapattoni may break from his favoured 4-4-2 system for tomorrow night's friendly with Uruguay due to a shortage of striking options.

The Irish boss is preparing to take on last summer's World Cup semi-finalists with a makeshift side after allowing Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane, Damien Duff and Kevin Kilbane to leave the camp following Saturday's |2-1 win over Macedonia.

Add in Kevin Doyle's unfortunate medial ligament injury, and it means that the 72-year-old is down to just 17 players for the encounter with the South Americans. Anthony Stokes and Cillian Sheridan have been placed on standby, although the latter, based in Bulgaria with CSKA Sofia, only learned of that news via Twitter.

Trapattoni doesn't seem too worried about the shortage of bodies, but with Shane Long and Andy Keogh the only two front men present, it is quite likely that Ireland will play the majority of the game with James McCarthy operating in a floating role behind a lone front man, meaning a possible switch to 4-5-1.

The Italian said he would finalise his thoughts on his formation overnight but after suggesting McCarthy is a classic number 10 — even comparing him to greats Michel Platini, Gianni Rivera and Sandro Mazzola — it would be unusual if he opted to use the 20-year-old in a different role.

Stephen Kelly is in line to replace Dunne alongside Darren O'Dea at centre-half, with Ciaran Clark favoured at left-back, though Kelly and Clark could easily swap positions in that eventuality.

Keith Fahey and Liam Lawrence were also namechecked as Trapattoni discussed possible changes, with Glenn Whelan set to be rested after a hectic run of games recently.

Trapattoni explained his reasons for letting the senior players go. He had flagged it before the game, with Keane the only surprising departure in the context of his lack of match practice.

“I spoke to Robbie after the game and I said he could play for 20 or 30 minutes, but I suggested he go and spend time with his family,” said Trapattoni.

“This is a chance for me to evaluate the younger players, and see how they behave against a very technical team.

“If we hadn't won, I wouldn't have allowed them [senior players] to go home because they would have been good to have around for the morale, for extra support.”

Kilbane flew back to England to sit on the bench for Huddersfield in their League One win over Notts County yesterday, while |Trapattoni said he was never |going to include Duff after the immense running shift he put in on Saturday.

Duff's Fulham clubmate Kelly, who hasn't kicked a ball at senior level since the friendly with Norway in November, is in line for the captaincy with Long and Keogh also mentioned on the basis that they are amongst the longer-standing squad members in the remaining bunch.

Belfast Telegraph


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