Ireland's on-field preparations for Euro 2012 end tonight in Budapest and the manager will want his team to head to Poland in optimum physical and mental shape
By Ryan Bailey
It was a pretty eventful week after Giovanni Trapattoni and his Republic of Ireland squad touched down in Montecatini for their pre-Euro 2012 training camp; tremors from last Tuesday’s Italian earthquake may have been felt by some of the squad but Il Trap was to provide his own aftershock as he decided to omit Kevin Foley from his final 23-man squad at the 11th hour. The Boys in Green then recorded a comfortable 5-0 victory over a local Tuscan XI with Foley proving his fitness in a 45-minute run-out.
However, with a successful week of intense preparations behind them, Trapattoni’s men are set for their final warm-up game ahead of that all-important Euro 2012 opener with Croatia next Sunday. Despite being a friendly, the game in Budapest this evening is similar to last week’s outing against Bosnia - a vital part of Trap’s preparations.
His sidekick Marco Tardelli has underlined the importance of the game, stating that the match at the Puskas Ferenc Stadium is when the players’ attitudes will change and their minds will focus on the challenges ahead.
Concern | Fitness worries over O'Shea should clear up after tonight
Today’s friendly is pivotal for many reasons, the main one being the need of game time for several of Ireland’s key players. Unlike many other nations, the Ireland side is extremely settled and game time as a unit is not a worry for the Italian tactician but injury concerns have been very prominent over the last fortnight. All have now eased with John O’Shea the only individual to be giving the 73-year-old sleepless nights. However, the Sunderland defender seems to have recovered from his ankle problem and will be eager to prove his fitness to the coaching staff.
If Trapattoni's preferred starting side come through the majority of the game unscathed in Budapest, don’t be surprised to see Il Trap give some of his back-up players more game time. The likes of Jon Walters, Keiren Westwood, Darren O’Dea and James McClean have featured heavily in the previous two warm-up games and, despite impressing, are likely to have to settle for a place on the bench for the Croatian encounter.
Nonetheless, Trapattoni will want to utilise his squad fully in the Hungarian capital in order to give him options should one of the regulars suffer a setback. Many of the players and, indeed, the Italian himself claimed that performances in these sort of games are just as important as the result. Last week’s game in Dublin provided the perfect send off in terms of the result and performance and Trapattoni will want more of the same on Monday as he finalises his plans.