McGeady now a concern
THERE has been pain in Spain for Aiden McGeady as the winger has emerged as the first serious injury concern of the new year for Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of the Euro 2012 finals.
Ireland's plans for the finals in Poland and Ukraine have already stepped up a gear this week, with confirmation by the FAI yesterday that they have chosen the Italian town of Montecatini, near Florence, as their base for a training camp in the week before the squad fly out on Euro duty, first to Budapest for a friendly against Hungary, and then on to Poland for the final build-up to the tournament.
On Friday, Trapattoni will be in Ireland to name his squad for the February 29 friendly against the Czech Republic in Dublin, but apart from the clamour to have Sunderland's in-form winger James McClean included, Trapattoni now has an injury problem to deal with over Aiden McGeady.
McGeady's club, Spartak Moscow, have confirmed that the former Celtic man picked up an injury during training in their pre-season camp in Spain. McGeady suffered a shin injury in training and was taken for a MRI scan to a hospital in nearby Alicante.
It was initially feared that McGeady had suffered the same injury which he picked up in June, a complaint which kept him out of action for two months, but Spartak said today that while they are still unsure of the extent of the setback, they hope that McGeady will not turn out to be as serious as was thought.
Spartak will be very eager to have McGeady fit for the re-start of the Russian league season following a winter break when action resumes on March 4th, and that would make his participation in the February 29th friendly against the Czechs very unlikely.
He was injured against Rubin Kazan last June, just days after he helped Ireland to a vital win away to Macedonia in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, and didn't return until the end of August.
McGeady's likely absence from the squad for the Czech game could see McClean pushed into the senior squad earlier than Trapattoni had planned, especially as other wide midfielders from the established squad are currently out of favour with their clubs (Stephen Hunt) or injured (Seamus Coleman).
McClean's team-mate at club level, John O'Shea, has joined the list of those singing the praises of the Derry native who scored his third goal of the season in Saturday's win over Stoke City.
“James has been superb – his goal against Stoke was fantastic and he really has been inspirational for us over the last few weeks,” said O'Shea. “The goal came from a nice little move and you saw the composure James had to slot the ball home with his right foot.
“It was a fantastic finish and James is getting better and better. He's dealing with opponents well, learning the game quickly and adapting very well to the Premier League.
“James knows that different full-backs cause different problems. He can cut inside, outside and threaten in behind with his pace and power, which causes defenders lots of problems.”
McGeady is the only major injury concern for Trapattoni right now. Shane Long has played little football for West Brom in recent weeks with just one start for the Baggies in 2012 but he's likely to retake his place in the side for Sunday's local derby against Wolves.
Seamus Coleman has missed Everton's last six games and has played in just one of the last 10 games for the Toffees, but is making progress in his recovery from a groin injury.
Keiren Westwood, likely to be back-up to Shay Given at the finals, has also been a source of worry as his last game for Sunderland was on St Stephen's Day, but his injury lay-off was brief and he's been on the bench for the Black Cats in their last five games.