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The Italian veteran makes his final decision on Monday May 7 and he still has some tough choices ahead of the trip to Poland

Twenty-four years since their sole appearance at a European Championship, Ireland are now just weeks away from returning to a major international tournament for the first time in a decade.

Boss Giovanni Trapattoni is set to announce his 23-man squad on Monday at 1530 local time. It will be the start of a hectic few weeks for the Boys in Green who play their final friendly on Irish turf on May 26 against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Il Trap will then bring his squad to his native Italy for a six-day, pre-tournament camp in Tuscany where Ireland will play another friendly contest. Opponents are likely to be Albania or a Tuscany XI to raise funds for the late Piermario Morosini's family.

The 73-year-old coach will get another chance to inspect his squad on June 4 in Ireland's final friendly against Hungary in Budapest. Ireland will then journey to their Polish base of Gydnia the following day to begin final preparations for the Euro 2012 opener against Croatia on June 10 in Poznan.

GOALKEEPERS

DEFINITES


Shay GIVEN

The obvious choice, Ireland's undisputed No.1 has 121 caps to his name. Starting all but one of the qualifying games, Given has looked his usual self in 30 of Aston Villa's 36 games so far this Premier League season since completing a move from Manchester City. One of the easier inclusions to predict.


Keiren WESTWOOD

Challenging Given for the gloves is Sunderland's Keiren Westwood. Signed from Coventry after 131 games for the Sky Blues, he has found game time limited behind Belgian Simon Mignolet but has impressed in his eight starts. He made his Irish debut in 2008 and has earned eight caps since.

PROBABLES


David FORDE

With Trapattoni's penchant for squad consistency, Forde is the favourite to land the third goalkeeping slot. He has earned two caps to date, including a clean sheet in a friendly against Italy. Runner-up for Milwall's 2011 Player of the Year, the 32-year-old started 27 games for the Lions but latterly lost his place to Maik Taylor.

OUTSIDERS

Included in the squad for the friendly against the Czech Republic, Stephen Henderson has a slim chance of sneaking into the squad. Ousting Jamie Ashdown to assert himself as Portsmouth's first choice 'keeper, Henderson was snapped up on emergency loan by West Ham United but is yet to feature.

Motherwell's third-place position in the Scottish Premier League has been helped greatly by their ever-present number one, Bray-born Darren Randolph. Though he is yet to make his full international debut, the 24-year-old has earned multiple call-ups over the last 12 months. Could be unique among the Irish goalkeeping fraternity in playing Champions League football next season. KB

DEFENDERS

DEFINITES


Richard DUNNE

Along with Shay Given and Robbie Keane, Dunne is one of Trap's Untouchables. His heroics in qualifying, particularly against Russia in Moscow, have only cemented his reputation as the natural heir to Paul McGrath. Recently returned to the Aston Villa team after a two month absence with a fractured collarbone.


Sean ST LEDGER

St Ledger has clocked up 24 caps since making his debut under three years ago. Likely to be Dunne's partner in defence, he made nine appearances in qualifying and popped up with a vital goal against Slovakia. Hasn't enjoyed the best of campaigns with Leicester City. Euro 2012 could be a useful shop window for the 27-year old.


John O'SHEA

Played in nine of the 12 qualifiers putting him just behind Dunne for the number of appearances by a defender through the campaign. The versatile Waterford man has excelled at Sunderland since switching from Manchester United. Will be deployed at full-back for the boys in green.


Stephen WARD

Has the distinction of playing every single minute of Wolves' Premier League campaign. As part of a defence that has shipped 79 goals, he will relish the chance to forget domestic woes this summer where he is likely to be first choice left-back. Fatigue may be an issue after a long season.


Stephen KELLY

The Dubliner has enjoyed a fine season at Fulham which included a Europa League campaign. A regular for Martin Jol, he returned to the side for their 1-0 defeat of Liverpool after being out for three weeks with a wrist injury. Has the trust of Trap and was named captain for last year's friendly with Uruguay.

PROBABLES



Darren O'DEA

Impressed on loan at Leeds United from Celtic where he played with six different defensive partners. O'Dea was keen to remain at Elland Road but Neil Warnock ended that hope by sending him back to Celtic Park. Without any serious opposition for the reserve centre back spot, O'Dea seems to be a banker for the 23-man squad.


Kevin FOLEY

Another Irish Wolves player who suffered the indignity of relegation, Foley is a favourite of Trapattoni despite making just one appearance in qualification. Useful in midfield, as well as his regular position of full back, the utility player is expected to make the trip to Poland to provide cover.

OUTSIDERS

An injury-ravaged season at Aston Villa hasn't helped Ciaran Clark's cause. The former England youth international has made just 16 appearances in all competitions for the Villans after suffering head and knee injuries in quick succession. Didn't play a single minute in qualifiers and hasn't featured for his adopted country since the Uruguay friendly in March of last year.

Cork-born Damien Delaney is another who didn't play at all during qualifiers but has made five appearances under Trap. The Ipswich Town centre back made 30 appearances for the Tractor Boys but will have to rely on injuries to others in order to make the final 23.

After spening the second half of the season on loan at Crystal Palace from Hull City, Paul McShane found first-team football at club level. But he did not feature for the national team during the qualification campaign and now seems to be a long way from the reckoning. PR

MIDFIELDERS

DEFINITES


Keith ANDREWS

The midfielder is one of the first names on the teamsheet, and has formed a sturdy partnership with Glenn Whelan. Internationally, Andrews plays a holding role, but at Ipswich and West Brom, he’s been let of the leash this season, scoring 11 times.


Glenn WHELAN

Dubliner Glenn Whelan is guaranteed a spot on the plane, having started every one of Ireland’s qualifying matches. Has been a central figure in Tony Pulis’s Stoke City side this season, helping the club reach the knock-out stages of the Europa League.


Damien DUFF

Ireland’s wing wizard is still going strong at club and international level. The World Cup 2002 veteran is one of the older heads in the squad now, but still has the vision and trickery of old. Scored three times in Europe as Fulham reached the Europa League group stage.


Aiden McGEADY

The Spartak Moscow wideman has had a long domestic campaign with the Russian Premier League moving to a winter season. He’s now back in the Spartak starting XI, with the club on the verge of Champions League qualification. Was one of Ireland’s key players in qualifying, topping the assists chart for the Boys in Green.

PROBABLES



Darron GIBSON

His career has been reignited since leaving Manchester United, vindicating Trapattoni’s advice to the midfielder. Gibson has won over many fans since joining Everton in January, and should be named in the Ireland squad for Euro 2012.


Keith FAHEY

Since moving to a more central role, Fahey has been one of Birmingham City’s best players, helping Chris Hughton’s side to the Championship play-offs. His versatility across midfield should see him included in the Ireland squad. Introduced as a substitute in seven of the qualifying games.


Stephen HUNT

The Wolves winger has been hampered by injury this season, but Trapattoni sees him as a useful substitute to provide some pace and energy in the latter stages of a game. Started just two of the qualifiers, but came off the bench five times. That experience might see him edge out younger contenders.


James McCLEAN

Despite only having six months’ experience in the Premier League, former Derry City winger James McClean has won plaudits from almost everywhere. Sunderland’s young star has been a sensation under Martin O’Neill, scoring five times in 21 league appearances. He could be Ireland’s secret weapon at Euro 2012.

OUTSIDERS

Trapattoni has singled James McCarthy out as one for the future, which may indicate that the Wigan youngster will miss out on the final squad. However, his recent displays in a more defensive midfield for Wigan have not gone unnoticed.

Paul Green turned down a new contract with Derby County, having his sights set on bigger things – not least Euro 2012. He has been consistently impressive since coming back from injury at club level, but those few months on the sidelines has seen Trapattoni install new faces in his place.

Keith Treacy didn’t play one minute in qualifying, and has only appeared in friendlies and the Carling Nations Cup. His move down to the third tier with Sheffield Wednesday also rules him out of contention, despite a promotion-winning spell with the Owls.

Liam Lawrence was a key player in Trapattoni’s squad at the start of qualifying, starting three of the first four games. However, Lawrence seems to have taken the fall for the 3-2 loss to Russia in Dublin, and seems to be the forgotten man of Irish football.

A forgettable season at Everton for Seamus Coleman has also severely dented the Donegalman's chances of going to the tournament. Injuries and a lack of form have seen Coleman pushed down the Ireland pecking order. The conservative Trapattoni will not leave much room in his plans for last-minute alterations. RM



FORWARDS

DEFINITES


Robbie KEANE

Injuries permitting, captain and talisman, Robbie Keane, is a certainty to be included in the squad. Ireland's leading goalscorer has enjoyed success since moving to LA Galaxy this season and had a highly-productive loan spell at Aston Villa at the start of the year.


Kevin DOYLE

Wexford native Doyle has endured a torrid season with relegated Wolves, scoring just five goals over the course of the campaign, but remains an important player for Ireland. That said, questions will have arisen over whether he merits a starting berth with competition from Long, Cox and Walters.


Shane LONG

Long signed for West Brom during the 2011-12 season, and is the Baggies' second leading goalscorer. Trapattoni is a huge fan of the indefatigable Tipperary man and with Doyle's questionable form, Long will stake a strong claim to start alongside Keane.


Jonathan WALTERS

Versatile forward Jonathan Walters has arguably been the most consistent starter out of the Irish strikers and with 10 goals in all competitions for his club, he may be a surprise choice in the starting XI for the Euros.


Simon COX

Cox has had possibly the most uninspiring season of the Irish forwards, making just 16 league appearances and failing to make the scoresheet at West Brom. However, he has impressed Trapattoni in his cameos for Ireland, notably snatching the last-gasp equaliser against the Czechs in February.

OUTSIDERS

Having just returned from a serious injury, Newcastle striker Leon Best is unlikely to be included in Trapattoni's squad. His inclusion is all the more unlikely considering Trapattoni's odd comments to the media regarding the player, whom he allegedly described as being “lazy”.

A mid-season move to Millwall has brought with it great goalscoring form for Andy Keogh. The former Wolves man was favourite of Trapattoni's during the early part of his reign but has fallen from the Italian's sights since then. Ten goals in 18 Championship appearances might well have him on Trap's radar again. RK

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