Dunne is last one we can afford to lose
Injury will send shiver down Trap's spine ahead of Euros
GIOVANNI Trapattoni's worst nightmare has come to pass with the news that Richard Dunne is facing at least two months and maybe more in treatment for a broken collarbone.
Worse than that, a possible replacement in the Ireland squad, Ciaran Clarke, is also scheduled for intensive treatment at Aston Villa after damaging knee ligaments during training late last week.
But amid the huge concern over the fitness of Ireland's inspiration, there was plenty of good news for Trap with Keith Andrews making a scoring debut for West Brom and James McClean scoring again for Sunderland.
With Dunne and probably Clark now ruled out of Ireland's warm-up against the Czech Republic, space has opened up in the squad which Trapattoni could fill with McClean.
More likely, however, is a call-up for Paul McShane, who missed out on selection for the original squad named last Friday.
Trapattoni will be pleased that Aiden McGeady is back training in Moscow and trying to run off a damaged ankle.
It was inevitable that at least one of Trapattoni's Ireland squad pillars would have an injury scare before Euro 2012 but, of all the possibilities, Dunne is the one nobody wanted.
Heart and soul of the Ireland team, Dunne's collarbone and the ligaments around it will be the object of the deepest scrutiny by Irish fans over the next few months.
Dunne's collision with Joe Hart was a typically brave and fully committed attempt by Ireland's first choice defender to grab an equaliser against Manchester City. But he fell from a great height onto his outstretched arm which crumpled under his weight.
"I'm not sure what is going to happen with the big 'un, whether he is going to go to hospital tonight or whatever, or what they do if a shoulder is dislocated; whether they stick it back in. I don't know at this moment exactly what's happened."
That was Alex McLeish's initial response after Aston Villa had lost 1-0 to Manchester City and the prognosis was not good even at that early stage.
"He's definitely damaged his shoulder which is part of the bad luck we've been having recently. I can't give you an answer just now, but I do believe he is going to be out for at least a month, so that's serious enough. It's not good."
Clarke's knee injury was not thought to be that serious but as ever with knee ligaments, caution is advised in the recovery.
His inclusion in the Ireland squad for the game against the Czechs was a clear signal that he is in Trapattoni's plans for Poland but he is now unlikely to be fit in time for the February 29 friendly at Lansdowne Road.
"In training Ciaran caught his studs in the turf and he's tweaked his ligament," said McLeish.
"It's a real shame because we had definite plans for him."
"We will lose him for a few weeks. It's not an overnight return either. It's knee ligament issues."