Preview: Ireland v Norway
WHAT are we going to learn from tonight’s clash with Norway at Lansdowne Road?
Looking at the team-sheet and reading Spud Watch weekly, Irish players are still struggling to notch up match minutes despite being months into the new season.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s stubborness is becoming a real bone of contention when Irish fans can see certain players consistently making the grade in the Premier League but unable to cross the Italian’s radar. In contrast, players who were utterly exposed by Russia a few weeks back continue to curry his favour.
Only injury has robbed McShane, Green, and Kilbane of their places in the squad for a game that would have been ideal to blood new players, players who are in-form and performing regularly. What is so different in some of the selection decisions of Trap to those of the rightly ridiculed Stan Marino?
Kevin Foley, Stephen Ward, Stephen Carr, and Seamus Coleman are earning rave reviews for their performances in the Premier League. Even Steven Reid or Rory Delap would have merited inclusion not to mention Andy Reid, who despite all that has been said about him has continued to keep his counsel amid a hugely dignified desire to play for Ireland at some point in the future.
Only Coleman and Foley were worthy of a call-up and Coleman, in particuar, the player who David Moyes has likened to man-of-the-moment Gareth Bale, is only good enough for a place on the bench.
It is arguable that had he his ‘strongest’ squad available, Trapattoni would have went for his normal first-choice eleven for this clash with the Scandinavians. What would be the point of that? We have already seen them utterly ripped apart by the Russians, but Trap failed to wield the axe for the subsequent clash with Slovakia. Now, with a chance to experiment with in-form players, he fails to call them up, and opts to go with an eleven so bench-ridden, it that has more splinters than a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles box-set.
It’s a new look Irish team, partly injury-enforced. But it’s the wrong Ireland team. Hope springs eternal, and we can only wish that Trapattioni will use the Carling ‘Cell-Thick’ Cup next year to introduce new blood.
(We may need those cells if we get an influx of Nordie and Scots degenerates eager for a Dublin jolly-up). At least the Gardai may get to initiate the riot training they received for Euro 2008 (They began preparations as soon as Ireland sumbitted her doomed bid) as they could do with sharpening up in a few areas given their showing against the Students a few weeks back.
Add into the mix England’s no doubt imminent inclusion in the tournament in the next few years. The FA will be eager to host something once their World Cup 2018 bid collapses. The paint will barely be dry on Lansdowne before it gets torn asunder….again.
But I digress. Perhaps a young gun can stake a claim tonight with a sparkling performance. God knows Ireland could do with some light this week. I hope it comes from our current shooting star Seamus Ramos. Sadly under Trap, the question is very much if, and not when, he gets his chance.