Monday, February 9, 2009

Trapattoni backs Given to play until 40

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is backing Shay Given to emulate the feats of legendary compatriot Dino Zoff.

The Italian goalkeeper played well into his 40s in a distinguished career which brought him World Cup glory among a host of honours.

Former Italy boss Trapattoni has previously compared Given favourably to Gianluigi Buffon, and after seeing him secure a big money switch to Manchester City from Newcastle last week, is convinced he has much of his career still ahead of him.

The 32-year-old made a superb debut for City in yesterday's 1-0 Barclays Premier League win over Middlesbrough, during which he pulled off a string of fine saves to deny Brazilian striker Afonso Alves, and his international boss was delighted by his form as he joined up with the Ireland squad today.

He said ahead of Wednesday's World Cup qualifying group eight match against Georgia: 'Goalkeepers are lucky because they can play until they are 40.

'Touch wood, without injuries he could go on like Dino Zoff, who was playing when he was 42 years old.

'Shay, without injuries, could go on for many, many years.

'His mentality is strong and yesterday, his reactions were fantastic. He made three or four very difficult saves.'

Given's exploits for City earned him an early finish in this afternoon's training session at Gannon Park in Malahide, which at one point might have fallen victim to the weather.

Persistent snowfalls in Dublin throughout the morning had given cause for concern, but by the time Trapattoni and his players arrived at their training headquarters on the coast, the surface was fine.

Sunderland defender Paul McShane sat out as he continued his recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered during is club's 1-0 win over Fulham on January 27 - his condition will be assessed tomorrow.

Preston's Eddie Nolan has been drafted into the squad with Steve Finnan missing through injury, while Hull striker Caleb Folan has also withdrawn.

But 20-year-old Nolan and Reading striker Kevin Doyle, who faced each other in a 0-0 Coca-Cola Championship draw at the Madejski Stadium yesterday, remained at the team hotel nursing minor knocks.

Manchester United duo John O'Shea and Darron Gibson, and skipper Robbie Keane, will train tomorrow after being on duty for their clubs today.

Keane will join up having made a second debut for Tottenham in their 0-0 draw with Arsenal having been put out of his misery at Liverpool.

The 28-year-old's £12million return to White Hart Lane just six months after securing a £20.3million switch to the club he supported as a boy brought an end to a difficult period in his career.

Trapattoni refused to add to the debate over Rafael Benitez's use of a man he rates as his most influential player, but admitted Ireland will benefit if Keane is happier back on familiar territory than he was at Anfield.

He said: 'Every coach has their system and many times, Liverpool play with only one striker.

'Benitez has international experience and he likes that system. For me, Robbie Keane is important for us, maybe the most important man in the team because he not only scores, but he reads the game and he moves the ball and he understands the game.

'But we have one system and Liverpool has another system. Maybe it is better for him to go back because he will play more often for 90 minutes.

'The first question I was asked last year was 'Is it good if Keane goes to Liverpool?' and I answered it was good because it is a famous team and for him, it would be important to play European games.

'But I know him and I could see he was not happy.

'If he was not happy and he has decided to go back to Tottenham, I am sure it will be a good situation for him because he will regain his confidence, and psychologically, that will be very, very important for him.'

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