NORWICH CITY PLAYMAKER Wes Hoolahan has been called up to the Republic of Ireland squad to face Greece next month, ending his international exile.
Giovanni Trapattoni today named a provisional panel for the friendly in the Aviva Stadium on 14 November, including 30-year-old Hoolahan who has struggled to find a way back into the manager’s plans since winning his only cap in 2008.
Everton defender Shane Duffy, who has yet to make his senior international debut, is included on the 26-man list as is Damien Delaney of Crystal Palace.
Ciaran Clark, David Meyler, Robbie Brady and the uncapped Conor Clifford, all of whom were handed late call-ups for the qualification double-header against Germany and the Faroe Islands, have also been recalled.
But there is no place for captain Robbie Keane who has been rested while West Brom striker Shane Long has been ruled out for now with a hamstring injury. Long is due to have a scan on the injury, but Trapattoni says that he does not expect him to be fit in time for the Baggies’ game against Southampton on Monday evening.
“It would be a surprise for me if he plays,” the Italian said, “but if he plays, he will be with us also.”
The squad will be shortened to 23 players before meeting up in Dublin on 11 November.
Trapattoni’s decision to include Hoolahan after more than four years in the international wilderness is sure to please those frustrated by the Dubliner’s continued omission, despite his excellent form for Norwich.
Hoolahan was called in to the squad for Ireland’s post-Euro 2012 friendly against Serbia this summer but was then forced to withdraw with an Achilles’ injury.
“We know about Hoolahan for three years,” Trapattoni said.
We follow him every game. We know he’s beautiful, but he plays in this position behind the striker.
We tried [this] also in the past, not with Hoolahan, but with James. It was not positive, James is young. Then I said also we need two strikers in our system.
“It is not his team, it is the national team and it’s different,” he added, but promised that Hoolahan would get his chance against Greece for at least 45 minutes.
“Sure we will play him. Sure. Minimum one half.”
Trapattoni also said that he hoped to use the game as an opportunity to build experience for the squad’s younger members, many of whom were thrown in at the deep end in the defeat to Germany and win against the Faroes.
With this friendly game, it’s another opportunity for two, three young players to increase their experience in international games.
I continue with Coleman, the same with McCarthy, also Brady because it’s very important that they can continue to play.
The more their personality and confidence increases, the more we can be sure. We can trust them to be very confident.
Ireland squad (v Greece): Westwood, Forde, Randolph, Coleman, O’Shea, O’Dea, Kelly, McShane, Ward, Duffy, Clark, Delaney, Andrews, McCarthy, Fahey, Meyler, Whelan, Clifford, Keogh, McGeady, McClean, Brady, Hoolahan, Doyle, Cox, Walters.