Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reading's Irish striking duet on target

Reading manager Brian McDermott has hailed the Irish striker partnership of Noel Hunt and Shane Long after they secured a 2-1 Championship win over Millwall at the Madejski Stadium last night.

Waterford born Hunt broke the deadlock three minutes in and even though Millwall equalised through Neil Harris, Long claimed the winner in the 55th-minute.

That took the Tipperary born striker to 16 for the season while fellow Ireland international Hunt now has six from 13 hampionship starts.

Long may also find himself with a starting birth up front in Ireland’s European Championship qualifier with Macedonia in Dublin next month, as Robbie Keane may struggle to regain fitness in time.

The Royals pair came in for praise from the manager after ensuring they claimed their first league win in seven, moving them back to within seven points of the play-offs.

"His (Long's) partnership with Noel Hunt works well," said McDermott.

"When I was chief scout I watched Noel play a lot in Scotland and he's one that defenders hate to play against.

"He didn't stop working. The last thing you want is someone to come to the Madejski and outwork us.

McDermott also revealed that Long is playing through the pain barrier as Reading try to remain in play-off contention.

"He has problems with his knee and stomach," said the Reading boss.

"I told him that if he needed a rest he would have to come and see me because I wasn't going to see him. He said he wouldn't be coming to see me."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Keane fitness in doubt for Euro qualifier

Record Irish goalscorer Robbie Keane is a doubt for Ireland's Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia on March 26th, as he recovers from a calf injury.

Keane’s participation in the Ireland squad is ‘touch and go’ as it is estimated that the crucial qualifier may come a week before Keane gets the all clear to resume playing.

Dublin born Keane has scored 45 goals in 104 international appearances for Ireland and was expected to play a major role in the Aviva stadium clash and the push for Euro 2012 qualification.

The Worrying news about Keane will be another concern for Ireland boos Giovanni Trapattoni who will be without No.1 goalkeeper Shay Given for the Dublin game after a shoulder injury ruled him out.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Given surgery may hinder Trapattoni's plans

Ireland international goalkeeper Shay Given will find out this week if he needs to go under the surgeons knife after the Man City goalkeeper sustained a shoulder injury in training.

Man City manager Roberto Mancini revealed "He has a shoulder problem and next week he will go to the doctor in London to see if he needs surgery,"

Should The Donegal born keeper require surgery he would be certain to miss Ireland's crucial European Championship qualifier with Macedonia in Dublin next month and would a major blow to Giovanni Trapattoni's preparations for the game.

Sought after Coventry City goalkeeper Keiren Westwood would deputise in the event of a lengthy lay-off for Given.

Celtic, Wigan and Everton all showed a keen interest in the keeper during the Winter transfer window and Westwood will be a free agent in the summer.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Coleman relishing Cole challenge

Irish international Séamus Coleman is looking forward to the prospect of going up against Chelsea left back Ashley Cole on Saturday, and hopes to come out on top as Everton look to secure their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Cole is widely regarded as one of the best left backs in the game, and the young Irishman believes these are the kind of challenges you should be enjoying.

Coleman, who made his Ireland international debut against Wales last week, has already pitted his wits against the England man twice this season and can't wait for his next opportunity at Stamford Bridge.

"It's what you want as footballer, you want to play against the best players in the world," Coleman told evertontv.

"I've played against him a couple of times already this season, it's always good to play against him and I go into the game on Saturday hoping to get the upper hand.

"He has a lot of experience, he's played at the top for a long time, he's very fit and he knows the game well, it's very hard to get the ball past him," he added.

"He attacks quite a lot, so me being a right back anyway I like to go back and defend and hopefully if I come up against him I can do well."

Everton go into the Chelsea clash on the back of a disappointing defeat to Bolton on Sunday, but the Donegal born Irish international has urged his teammates to move on from that display.

The Blues have already played out two 1-1 draws with Premier League champions Chelsea this term and Coleman is confident Everton can go one better and set-up a tie with Reading in the last 16.

"We want to forget about Sunday as soon as possible, it wasn't a good enough performance and we all know that," said Coleman.

"Obviously it's a massive game on Saturday in the FA Cup and we go down there hungry to advance in the competition.

"It didn't happen for us, we can't put our finger on why but we want to put it behind us now and get ourselves right again," admitted the Irishman.

"We drew with them, and the game at Goodison in the Cup we probably could have beaten them, so we know they are not unbeatable and we're confident of getting a result.

"We had enough chances to finish it off at Goodison but their 'keeper made a lot of good saves which helped - but we're definitely going there wanting to win."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wilson hoping for successful cup run

Ireland's Marc Wilson is pinning his hopes on a successful FA Cup campaign as he looks to overcome the heartache of missing last season's Wembley final show-piece.

The County Antrim born Irish international was a regular starter for Portsmouth under Avram Grant in a memorable run to the FA Cup Final which included the excellent 2-0 semi-final success against a strongly-fancied Tottenham Hotspur side at Wembley Stadium.

However, a hamstring injury suffered in Pompey's final Premier League game of the season against Everton brought his campaign to an end and subsequently scuppered his chances of featuring in main cup event of the English season.

"It was heartbreaking really, that's the only way I can describe it," he told "To have played in all of the other games, including the semi final at Wembley, made it even harder for me.

"As a youngster, you grow up dreaming of walking up the stairs at Wembley to lift the FA Cup, and to have that chance taken away from you, just like I did last year, is gut-wrenching really.

He continued: "The FA Cup is an amazing competition to play in and it is still one I am dreaming about winning one day. I don't see why we can't achieve that here. We have a home game coming up and if we can come through that then we are in the last eight where anything can happen."

The 23-year old is refusing to get too carried away about the prospects of reaching the quarter finals for a second successive year, describing the upcoming encounter against League One high-fliers Brighton as an "extremely difficult challenge".

"It is a game of football, and in those 90 minutes anything is possible," he added. "This competition is famous and it is famous because strange things can happen. Teams who you don't think should have a chance can come out on top and we have to be wary of that.

"We have good players here and we are confident that if we play to our potential then we should win the game, but they will come here confident because they are doing very well this season. I have seen them a couple of times on television and I have been impressed with them."

Victory against the Seagulls would help cap off a memorable ten days for the youngster, who only last week stepped off the substitutes bench to make his senior debut for Ireland as they brushed aside Wales 3-0 in the opening game of the Carling Nations Cup.

"It was an extremely proud moment for me and obviously an occasion I will never ever forget. It was fantastic to play a part in the game because it is something I have wanted to do since I was a little boy," he commented in reflecting on his international debut.

"To have all my family and friends over there at the game made it even more special for me, and hopefully if I can continue doing the right things here at Stoke, which is my priority, then I will get more opportunities down the line to represent my country."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Coleman looking for more international action

Séamus Coleman admits tasting international football with Ireland has left him wanting more.

Coleman's friends and family from Killybegs and other parts of Donegal were inside the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night to see him make his international debut against Wales in the first game of the Carling Nations Cup which ended in a comfortable 3-0 win for Ireland. After playing for almost an hour, Coleman is hoping Giovanni Trapattoni saw enough to keep faith in him for the crunch Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia next month in Dublin.

"Playing for your country is what every professional wants to do and I am no different," said the former Sligo Rovers player. "The more caps the merrier for me.
"He (Trapattoni) was delighted with the good convincing win and he congratulated me on my debut, which was all I wanted.

"To be honest I just wanted to play whether it be right back or right wing. I am used to right wing because of my time at Everton and I really enjoyed it. I am just going to go back to Everton and work hard there and hopefully the club form will be rewarded with more caps at international level.

"The game was similar to Premier League football," added Coleman. "We knew all about their players as well so that probably helped on my debut. There were a bit of nerves beforehand but I wasn't overly nervous. A small amount of nerves is always good to have so I was fine and I really enjoyed it. All my family and friends were down from Donegal so they went home happy."

Trapattoni thinks Gibson should consider Man United future

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni believes it is crucial for Darron Gibson to play regular first-team football and has advised him to leave Manchester United.

The Derry born midfielder scored his first international goal in Ireland's 3-0 victory over Wales on Tuesday night, driving home a fantastic long-range effort.

Trapattoni is excited about the 23-year-old's potential but fears his career will not fully lift off while he remains at Old Trafford.

While the Italian can understand why anyone would want to play for such a major club, he feels it is more important for Gibson to get more experience.

Gibson has yet to cement a regular starting spot in the United midfield and often finds himself providing back-up to the other first-choice midfielders.

With competition for places so fierce, Trapattoni feels Gibson should start considering a future elsewhere.

"He can do more. He has a big potential. If I was Gibson I would go to another group where I always play," Trapattoni said on Sky Sports News.

"By doing this you can build your mentality.

"Manchester is Manchester and it is an important club, but sometimes the young players need to play, play and play. It builds confidence."

Ireland 3 - Wales 0

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni hailed the performances of his young guns - and one 'old timer' after a convincing and comfortable win over Wales last night.

Trapattoni's side upped the tempo after a tame and goalless first half to power to a 3-0 victory in the opening Carling Nations Cup fixture at the Aviva Stadium.

Superb strikes from Darron Gibson and substitute Keith Fahey sandwiched another effort from the game's outstanding player, Damien Duff, as Gary Speed suffered defeat in his first game as Wales manager.

The goal from veteran Fulham winger Duff was the 31-year-old's first for his country for five years while debutants Ciaran Clark and Seamus Coleman, 21 and 22 respectively, also caught the eye.

Trapattoni said: 'It was a positive result and we deserved it.

'It was important to achieve this with two or three young or new players.

'They played well and showed good personality and they did what I wanted of them.

'Duff also gives the team personality, this is important.

'Players like him are very important at international level and we can win with players like him.'

Ireland now turn their attention to the visit of Macedonia next month as they look to build on their solid start in Group B of Euro 2012 qualifying.

Trapattoni said: 'Macedonia play different football but we have to believe we have the potential.

'Our team is a good team and we can play good football.'

Ireland -- Given, O'Shea (O'Dea 85), St Ledger, Dunne, Clark; Coleman (Fahey 57), Gibson (Wilson 81), Whelan (Green 76), Duff (Keogh 71); Walters, Doyle (Long 45).

Wales -- Hennessey, Eardley (Gunter 45), D Collins, J Collins, Ricketts; King, Vaughan (Ledley 60), Crofts; Church, Earnshaw (Easter 80), Robson-Kanu (Eastwood 67)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Trapattoni names team for Wales clash

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has named his starting team for the Carling Nations Cup opening game against Wales tomorrow evening.

Trapattonni has confirmed ten of his line-up and has yet to decide between Darron Gibson and Paul Green for the central midfield role alongside Glenn Whelan. There is no starting birth for Stoke's Marc Wilson, however it's clear that he is certainly as capable and versatile in the central midfield position, as any of the three named above.

Stoke City striker Jonathan Walters will make his first senior international start as Kevin Doyle's partner in attack having been introduced as a substitute in the last game against Norway. Shane Long is likely to play some part in the Irish front line during the game and will hope to carry his exceptional recent scoring record for Reading into the Carling Cup game.

As he indicated yesterday, Trapattoni has afforded debut caps to Ciarán Clark and Séamus Coleman.


Shay Given (Manchester City); John O'Shea (Manchester United), Sean St Ledger (Preston NE), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa); Seamus Coleman (Everton), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Paul Green (Derby County) or Darron Gibson (Manchester United); Jonathan Walters (Stoke City), Kevin Doyle (Wolves).

Coleman and Clark to make Ireland debuts

Ciarán Clark and Séamus Coleman will make their Ireland international debuts in tomorrow night’s Carling Nations Cup opener against Wales, However Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has lost Robbie Keane, James McCarthy, Keith Treacy, Liam Lawrence and Leon Best to injury.

Despite his hope that the Killybegs born player might develop into an attacking right back over the coming years, Coleman, the Italian said, will start on the right side of midfield for the Wales game while Clark will be used at left back.

The pair, he said, will get opportunities, “not just in this game but also in the qualifiers”, a comment that seemed to suggest Clark, in particular, has a chance of very quickly making the place his own if he can impress on this occasion.

Speaking about his inclusion in his first Ireland senior squad, Clark said “ I’ve just got to play as well as I can and hopefully impress. I’ve got to try and stay in the squad. There are a number of players who aren’t here who might be here for the next meet-up so there are a lot of people to choose from. I’ve got to keep training and playing hard and just see what might happen over the next couple of years.”

Clark, said he was excited by the prospect of making his senior debut.

“From a young age we have been a big Irish family and that is always what I wanted to do,” he said. “It was a good experience being with England. Ireland never came in at the time and that was just the path that things took but this is where I really wanted to be. Now I’ve made my decision and I would be honoured to be involved and hopefully I will be.”

Trapattoni seemed a little taken aback that James McCarthy will again be unavailable to him after the Wigan midfielder was withdrawn by his club whose medical staff, the Italian said, felt it be better if the player got the opportunity to rest having taken “a couple of knocks” in Saturday’s defeat of Blackburn, only his second game after returning from a long-term injury.

“It is a pity,” said Trapattoni because it would have been a good opportunity for him. I like him and could have looked at him in two different positions, behind the strikers and in midfield but it is not a problem, there will be other opportunities.”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Trapattoni names final squad for Wales cup game

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has confirmed his 22-man squad for the Carling Nations Cup opener against Wales at the Aviva Stadium next Tuesday, February 8.

James McCarthy has been added to the senior squad and alongside the inclusion of Wilson, Coleman and Clarke makes for a very exciting blend of young Premiership talent and more experienced campaigners like Keane, Duff, Dunne and Given.

Ireland Squad:

Given (Manchester City)
Westwood (Coventry City)
O'Shea (Manchester United)
Clark (Aston Villa)
Coleman (Everton)
Dunne (Aston Villa)
St Ledger (Preston North End)
Kelly (Fulham)
O'Dea (Celtic)
Wilson (Stoke City)
Gibson (Manchester United)
Whelan (Stoke City)
Paul Green (Derby County)
Lawrence (Portsmouth)
McCarthy (Wigan Athletic)
Treacy (Preston North End)
Duff (Fulham)
Keane (West Ham United)
Walters (Stoke City)
Doyle (Wolves)
Long (Reading)
Best (Newcastle United).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Robbie Keane ready for West Ham relegation fight

Robbie Keane is hoping to get his loan spell at West Ham off to a scoring start in Wednesday’s crucial Premier clash with Blackpool and is keen to wear his new number 34 shirt for the first time.

Keane has settled well in his first few days at Upton Park and is confident he can leave his mark on West Ham’s fight for Premiership survival.

“I am really pleased to have signed and now I just can’t wait to start training and playing football, I am ready to help West Ham stay in the Premier league, which is the most important thing for this club.”

“I feel as fit as I have ever done in my life and I feel I have plenty left to offer at the highest level for the next four or five years”

“When I went on loan to Celtic I scored seventeen goals in nineteen games, and if I can do even half as well as I did there, then I’d be happy."

“This is an opportunity for me. The team are bottom and the only thing we can do is push up the table. I want to help us do that and avoid relegation."