IRELAND’S FRINGE PLAYERS need to use next month’s friendly against Serbia to show Giovanni Trapattoni that he can trust them on the road to Rio, says Frank Stapleton.
Trapattoni broke from tradition in leaving Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane out of his squad for next month’s friendly against Serbia.
The move freed up space for Marc Wilson, James McCarthy, Andy Keogh and Keith Treacy among others to travel to Belgrade on 15 August, and also prompted speculation that the senior quartet might be nearing international retirement.
Stapleton remembers the first time he was left out of a Ireland squad as a senior pro but the former Arsenal and Manchester United legend has no doubt that Trapattoni plans to bring the veterans back for the World Cup qualifying campaign — provided they want to return.
“Jack Charlton did it but he wasn’t the first one to tell me,” Stapleton told TheScore.ie on Monday. “It was a press man rang me from here and said you’re not in the squad.
“It kinda caught me on the hop a bit because it really should have come from the manager first. I’m sure that Giovanni spoke to the players first.
It’s a difficult one. The manager says I’m going to try to blood some of these young lads. With Trapattoni, he’s up front with the guys so the reason behind it is that that’s exactly what he wants to do. There is no hidden agenda with him.
No doubt when the Kazakhstan squad is announced the lads will be back in unless they choose to end their careers, but I’m sure the manager has spoken to them all.
After the disappointing showing at the summer’s European Championships, there were calls for Trapattoni to branch out in his squad selection and experiment with some new faces.
While the bulk of the players who starred in Poland remain, Stapleton feels that the manager has got the balance right for Ireland’s only warm-up match before qualification begins.
“People want the manager to change the team and bring some fresh blood in. If you do it wholesale, you’re liable to get not a hiding but you don’t want a run of negative results.
“He has to try and change it slowly. If you do it wholesale, it just doesn’t work because you have to accept that you’re going to have two years of indifferent results.
“In the main, there won’t be many changes. I think you have to introduce fresh blood because it can invigorate other players, especially older players.”
The key, Stapleton added, is that those given a chance to impress in Belgrade leave the Italian with no doubts about their capabilities at international level.
“If they come in and there’s no impact, what do you do? You can’t give them another chance when there’s points at stake. You understand the dilemma the manager’s got? Jump from the Euros, one friendly match, straight into the World Cup campaign.
There is an opportunity for those lads but the opportunity is not for them to be world beaters in one game, but to show that they’re comfortable on the international stage and to make the right decisions on the pitch.
That’s all the manager is looking for. He has to be able to trust them.
Frank Stapleton was speaking at the launch of ESPN’s Premier League coverage for the 2012/2013 season. For more information, visit www.espn.ie.