Thursday, May 28, 2009

Trapattoni expecting tough test

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is sure Nigeria will provide tough opposition in their friendly at Craven Cottage on Friday.

The Italian is hoping for a meaningful test before the World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria on 6 June.

Trapattoni said "It's a very difficult game and a good test for some new players.

"I want to see Sean St Ledger playing against a strong team like Nigeria and Liam Lawrence can enrich our squad."

Preston duo Eddie Nolan and St Ledger are in line to make their debuts, while Stoke midfielder Lawrence is expected to start after impressing in the Potters' Premier League survival campaign.

The 27-year-old is hoping to cement his place on the right-hand side of the Ireland midfield.

He said: "If I do get that chance it's up to me to take it. One thing I do is work hard and do my best every week no matter what game it is and I think the fans appreciate that even if you're having a bad game."

With Reading striker Kevin Doyle ruled out with a calf strain and Hull's Caleb Folan suffering from a knee injury, Coventry's Leon Best looks set to partner Robbie Keane in attack. He is more than grateful for the opportunity.

The Nottingham-born former Southampton striker said: "I feel as if it's a blessing. I think my season's been up and down but to get a call up for the full international team is great. I'm just delighted to be here.

"It's a massive learning curve and I think if I do get thrown in then all the players will help me. It's a lot different but it's still football.

"Hopefully I can do everything the manager wants me to do and I can see the certain resemblance between me and Caleb."

One of Trapattoni's biggest tasks might be lifting the spirits of some members of his squad who have ended their club seasons on a sour note by failing to make play-off finals or, in Damien Duff's case, scoring an own goal that confirmed his side's [Newcastle] relegation.

The legendary manager had some simple advice for the player when he arrived for training.

He said: "He was not happy but I spoke with him and told him he has to score a goal in the other half."

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