herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

They'll wreck our new home

Inviting England's minority of thugs to Aviva isn't worth the hassle ... or money

DOES anyone really need the aggravation that Fabio Capello and his England team would bring with them to Lansdowne Road for a few dollars more?

Is there any point in exposing a stadium development with a 30-year gestation period to an amateur wrecking crew?

Imagine what the Nazi fringe would do with all those shiny new fixtures and fittings 15 years after that awful night when Combat 18 cut loose.

Fair play to Giovanni Trapattoni for trying his luck with Fabio Capello, but we should be thankful that the England boss is "otherwise engaged".

For some time now, there have been rumblings that a game against England was high on the list of money-spinners which the FAI and other interested parties were contemplating, but up until Trapattoni bent Capello's ear on the subject nobody really took the proposal seriously.

Perhaps, as many believe, the thugs who came to Dublin on February 15, 1995 hell-bent on causing havoc, have all moved on now and amuse themselves with snuff videos and other wholesome entertainment instead of creating mayhem in football venues.

I doubt it. A call would go out to veterans of Combat 18's D4 campaign and a new generation of nutters would gather around the fixture.

Short of banning all England supporters from the country around the time of the match, the only impact such a fixture would have is on the repayments the FAI must make to cover their lump of the stadium cost.

But surely there are other options out there. How about a big club tournament -- or Disney on Ice? Anything to avoid the sight of swastika tattoos sashaying around the streets of our biggest city again.

Trapattoni, of course, has his own reason for requesting a game against England. He's a man who likes big games and clearly believes that the layer of young Irish players sitting under the current squad needs big events to teach them the ropes.



riots

Since he will not be able to blood new talent in competitive games, he needs the nearest thing he can get to a qualifying match in terms of atmosphere and occasion -- like Brazil.

Clearly, Trapattoni is keen to test the depth of the new pool of talent and to him, a game against England must seem ideal. As we know, he's big on DVDS and perhaps someone should send him a copy of the Scannal programme about the Lansdowne Road riots shown recently on RTé for a reference point.

Trapattoni confirmed that he intends to take his shadow squad away for a training camp in mid-May before the two friendlies against Paraguay and South Africa-bound Algeria at the RDS, and that the exercise will not stretch the FAI's creaking finances.

That will include lads like James McCarthy, Greg Cunningham, Marc Wilson and perhaps other fringe players like Keith Fahey and Chris McCann, to name a few who have made a decent case for a call-up over the last few seasons.

"The young players will get the chance to stay with us, to improve," said Trapattoni. "We can't change too quickly, I couldn't change three, four, five against Brazil. The young players need structure around them.

"So, in May, we will have time to do something. It will be possible to achieve more then. Some will have been playing a lot with their clubs, but others can come with us."

Asked whether he is restricted in any way by the finances of such an exercise, Trapattoni was quick to point out the way these things work.

"Normally, when we look at situations like this, somebody hosts us. They invite us, it's not expensive because we play a friendly game so we don't spend the money."

Presumably, Trapattoni will excuse his senior players from babysitting new recruits during the camp but there may well be room for John O'Shea depending on which version of the Manchester United defender's recovery programme is accurate.

"I have spoken with him and he has spoken with our doctor," said Trapattoni. "There was a reaction after Paris and sometimes it takes 24 hours for that to be spotted. It might not have happened right after the injury.

"He will not play this season, for sure. Maybe there could be injections given, but I think no.

"I spoke with him and he said it will be another two or three months," added Trapattoni, before clarifying and muttering something about "maybe one month".

Either way, there is still some concern about O'Shea's fate and, until we see him run out onto a pitch, there will be a doubt about his fitness given the debilitating nature of the muscle injury he sustained in the Stade de France back in November.



exclusion

Trapattoni had a good deal more to say in his traditional morning-after briefing in London yesterday and ranged through the morality of picking players from other countries to the possibility of a recall for Andy Reid and even Stephen Ireland.

The suggestion was made that the training camp in May would be an ideal moment to bring Andy Reid back into the fold, given the fact that it was the first such exercise two years ago in Portugal which began the sequence of events that led to his exclusion.

Reid didn't make it to Praia de Luz and the suspicion has always been there lurking in the background that he would be an integral part of the Trapattoni show had he turned up.

"Never say never, it is what I always say. We will have a camp -- maybe in Corsica or Sardinia. Andy Reid ... never say never," he said.

As for Ireland, Stephen that is, Trapattoni has been having regular chats with Roberto Mancini by all accounts and reckons the Manchester City boss rates the wayward kickboxer highly enough to keep him in his squad.

"Mancini must win games but I am sure he appreciates Ireland's quality," said Trapattoni when asked whether Mancini intends to sell Ireland during the summer. "It is up the player if he wants to do something different."

Trapattoni has embraced the concept of player eligibility with as much enthusiasm as Jack Charlton did in the 1980s and '90s and while he does see how Northern Ireland and Scotland might have some qualms about the practice in the current circumstances, it won't stop him spreading his net wide.

He will do his work away from the public eye in this area.

"There's a procedure to follow -- they need clearance to play for another nation and if we start talking about it too early, other coaches will go to the player and say, 'Stay with us'.

"I know there is an issue of morality about the players switching countries, but if there is open market situation, you cannot close any doors.

"That's the law of the market," added Trapattoni.

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