Giovanni Trapattoni has sprung a surprise by including Derby’s Jeff Hendrick, Richard Keogh and Conor Sammon alongside the Norwich duo of Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington in the Irish squad to face Poland.
Trap was in attendance in Brighton last weekend to see Hendrick grab a consolation goal as Derby lost 2-1 to the hosts. The 20-year-old Dubliner has impressed for the Irish U21s while, surprisingly, his club-mates Richard Keogh, who has also represented Ireland at U21 level, and striker Conor Sammon, are also included.
Norwich’s Anthony Pilkington, who has only just received his Irish passport, will use it for the first time when landing in Dublin airport as he joins team-mate Wes Hoolahan in the youthful Irish squad.
Bristol’s Greg Cunningham earns another call-up as does goalkeeper Stephen Henderson.
Robbie Keane, who returned to LA this week for pre-season, was not asked to link up with the squad while new Reading signing Stephen Kelly, involved in a training ground bust-up before the Faroes game is given a ‘rest’ by the manager. Richard Dunne, back in training with Aston Villa, is placed on stand-by.
“I have decided to use this friendly game as an opportunity to work with younger players to see their potential. As a result, I have given senior players like Robbie Keane and Stephen Kelly a break for this fixture.”
“We saw a number of strong performances from our younger players in the second half of last year and we intend to build from those strong foundations, using this friendly match to introduce more new talent like Pilkington, Hendrick, Sammon and Keogh,” said Trapattoni.
Ireland’s first fixture of 2013 sees a reunion of the Irish and Polish fans for the first time since the summer of love last year. There’ll be a party in the stands at Lansdowne Road but Giovanni Trapattoni knows the clock is ticking on his time as Irish manager and only an impressive performance will give him breathing space.
The display of the Irish team that lost to Greece is generally accepted as being an improvement on the disasters that were Kazakhstan and Germany. Trapattoni looks like continuing his revamp of the squad with the likes of Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy and Robbie Brady now firmly in his plans.
Shay Given has made himself available for selection once more but he has not been included for next month’s friendly. Interestingly, Trapattoni cautiously welcomed the return of the goalkeeping legend but said the Poland game was about continuing with his recent policy of blooding the younger players like Brady, Meyler and McCarthy. Now he’s added newcomers Hendrick, Keogh and Pilkington to the mix.
Republic of Ireland squad vs Poland:
Westwood, Forde, Henderson, O’Shea, Clark, O’Dea, McShane, Coleman, Keogh, Cunningham, Ward, Pilkington, McClean, Brady, Mcgeady, Whelan, McCarthy, Hendrick, Meyler, Hoolahan, Cox, Long, Walters, Sammon, Keogh, Doyle