Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Trapattoni voices concern over Keane's Ireland position

Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni has spoken for the first time about Robbie Keane’s position as first-choice Irish striker and captain being under possible threat.

Announcing the 29 player squad for the February Carling Cup game against Wales, the Ireland manager said he was "disappointed" that Keane had yet to find a new club and expressed the hope that the Spurs striker still had time to sort out his club future and get back playing on a regular basis.

But while Trapattoni indicated that Keane would benefit from the boost of being selected to play against Wales, his longer-term future in an Ireland shirt now appears much less certain, with even his chances of playing the full game in the Euro Championship qualifier against Macedonia in March dependent on the amount of game time he might get between now and the game.

"If Robbie does not find a club, we can evaluate other options before the qualifying game," said Trapattoni. "We need players with rhythm, mentality, condition. There are situations that might still be open to Robbie. I said to him that all that is important is that he gets a move and plays. It’s not important if he plays Premiership, Championship or in Europe — he could even go to America.

"I don’t know if it’s true if he had an opportunity to go to Birmingham but I do hope now that he immediately gets a move. It’s important that he plays."

Trapattoni would only reluctantly drop his talisman and said that he must balance the issue of Keane’s lack of match sharpness against the effect of the loss of such an experienced player.

"At this moment we can only wait and hope that he immediately gets a move," he said. "Yes, we can make a change but it’s always dangerous to put too much weight on the shoulders of young players. Robbie and Shay Given are not only famous players but great players — although the position of a goalkeeper is different. But we need these two players.

"And the young players also need the older players, because it helps give them added security. I know this from when I was a young player myself. You need balance in the squad. But at the same time, we have Kevin Doyle and Shane Long. And the game against Wales is a good opportunity to evaluate our other options. So, yes, certainly I can start thinking about what we have after Keane but we also have to keep him in mind."