JAMES MCCLEAN IS the most surprising omission from the Republic of Ireland squad for the Euro 2012 warm-up friendly against the Czech Republic on 29 February.
The Derry youngster, who has impressed in his recent performances for Sunderland, was heavily tipped for a first international call-up after FIFA cleared his switch from Northern Ireland to the Republic last night.
But there was no place for the winger when Giovanni Trapattoni named his 24-man panel in Waterford this morning for the first of Ireland’s three pre-tournament games.
As promised, the Italian has shown faith in the same core group who earned qualification for the country’s first major championships in 10 years, declining to experiment with any uncapped players ahead of Ireland’s tournament opener against Croatia on 10 June.
Norwich duo Anthony Pilkington and Wes Hoolahan have also been left out, signalling the probable end of their Euro 2012 hopes.
“As we face this fixture, it is important for our players to remember the attitude and performance that brought us qualification,” Trapattoni said this morning. “The Czech Republic are a strong team, and their system is similar to Croatia and Spain.”
“This game is vital in helping us choose our 23-player squad for May. We will continue to monitor our players afterwards, and keep a close eye on their fitness in the coming months.”
Republic of Ireland squad (v Czech Republic): Given, Westwood, Forde, O’Shea, Kelly, Ward, Dunne, St. Ledger, O’Dea, Foley, Whelan, McCarthy, Coleman, Andrews, Fahey, Gibson, Duff, McGeady, Hunt, Keane, Doyle, Long, Cox, Walters.
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