Madden gets in a good position
PADDY MADDEN was a new name to Giovanni Trapattoni when it was lobbed in his direction a few weeks back. He's just a hamstring tweak away from a place in the Ireland squad now.
At the rate Ireland's summer-fresh professionals are dropping, Madden could end up starting against Wales in Cardiff on Wednesday. Aiden McGeady is the latest cry-off and more will follow.
Simon Cox, David Forde, Stephen Quinn and Anthony Pilkington have already issued sick notes and Robbie Keane has been given a pass.
Trapattoni had no idea who Madden was when asked about the Yeovil Town hotshot as he named his extended squad in Bray three weeks ago.
"Sometimes, it's strange for me when names are plucked out of the sky and you think we don't watch these players," he said with exaggerated exasperation. "We always have scouts watching."
You'd like to believe that but supportive evidence is thin on the ground. Madden is a prospect but Trapattoni doesn't dip below the Championship in his own mind and Kevin Doyle is one paying the price for that.
Aged 23, Madden falls outside the scope of Noel King and his Under 21 set-up, although his remarkable scoring performance during Yeovil's promotion run should have raised a flag for the senior international manager.
Madden is now a Championship player and that should have earned some sort of acknowledgement.
All he needs now is one more injury and he will be on the bus and from his perspective, that's all that matters. He will almost certainly get his wish.
No manager, Premier League nor Championship, feels an obligation toward national teams in the first few weeks in August and it is hard to blame them.
The week before the start of a new season is frantic and tension-filled. Waving goodbye to your best players six days before the season kicks off can't be easy or in the case of Championship managers, with the battle already under way.
That's why Pilkington won't be in Dublin despite the fact that this no-show will almost certainly mean that Trapattoni will move on.
Pilkington was waved in the air as the man to help change Trapattoni and Ireland's approach but we've been fed this line before and nothing came from it.
Remember not so long ago, Trapattoni held up James McCarthy as the man who could change things playing as a second striker. That was a bum steer. McCarthy has changed things but despite rather than because of encouragement from his international boss and the change has been marginal.
Trapattoni's old rules still apply and Pilkington was never going to change that. He is a handy red herring whose greatest consistency as a footballer to date is his metronomic withdrawal from Ireland squads – generally with unspecified knee problems.
Chris Hughton picked his words well when he explained that Pilkington hasn't played for him in pre-season but hopes to be back in training in time for the start of the season, which is just 10 days away.
If he shows up on the starting line, Trapattoni will definitely put him on the "we are watching" list and who could disagree?
With Pilkington ruled out, Trapattoni's scope for experimentation is diminished, if it was ever in his mind at all.
For once, that's probably a good thing. McCarthy, Séamus Coleman and Marc Wilson have more bedding in to do and for that reason, nobody will quibble if Trapattoni puts out his strongest side against Wales.