Trapattoni: We believe in our players
Republic of Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni admits he already has his team in his head for the UEFA EURO 2012 finals. The 72-year-old will send his side out for tomorrow night's friendly against the Czech Republic having reiterated his stance that the men who took the nation to Poland and the Ukraine will do battle for it in the summer.
Trapattoni intends to take a look at youngsters James McClean and Shane Duffy at the Aviva Stadium, although if he does so, it will be from the bench having named his strongest available starting line-up. However, the chances of either forcing their way into his plans for the finals appear remote.
Asked if he had more or less decided on his 23-man squad and his team already, Trapattoni said: "Sure, but I have said always that depends on injuries. First, we have to have respect for the players who have contributed to qualification.
"This group has played well and they have played always. Maybe if we have injuries, some of the younger players can come in. But for now, we have a squad and we have a team, and they deserve respect as a group.
"This is the last opportunity we have to consolidate our squad spirit. We want to show that we believe in these players who have brought us to the EURO 2012 finals. I am sure the squad all know and understand what an opportunity this is. This is a great opportunity for our national team.
"I will start with the group that helped us qualify for the finals tournament. In the second half, I may use some of the other younger players. I have already said maybe Shane Duffy and also James McClean because we can add them into our system to understand better what usually we do on the pitch."
Captain Robbie Keane, however, insists every single member of the squad will have to maintain his standards during the months leading up to the summer festivities if they are to make the plane. He said: "Listen, the squad hasn't been picked yet, so everyone has got a chance.
"McClean has come in (at Sunderland) and he has done exceptionally well, considering he has come from the League of Ireland and gone into the best league in the world, and stamped his authority on it and done ever so well for them. Duffy has played in a few games as well. As I said before, the squad is not picked and it's up to the manager to keep an eye on players in the next three months and see how well they do."