Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has suggested that he will not play Richard Dunne in the upcoming friendly international against Poland because he wants the veteran defender to be fit for the game against Sweden in March.
Speaking to reporters after announcing his squad for the friendly against Poland on February 6, Trapattoni revealed that he had spoken to the Aston Villa centre back about his progress and explained that the 33-year-old defender could help to 'counter the threat' of Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
"I spoke to him very recently and it's going very well," Trapattoni told reporters. "Richard has a full conviction and desire to come straight back which is great and I'm happy about that.
"I do worry though about him coming back too early. I don't want to create more problems so it's better to take it step by step. That's why against Sweden I'll be looking to Richard because I feel he can help counter the threat of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
"Richard has said 'that's OK, I'll see you in March' but it still hasn't been decided whether or not he’ll be back for Poland.
"It might be best to keep him safe for March because it could be dangerous for him to come back too soon."
Meanwhile, the Boys in Green boss has indicated that he will not judge Aston Villa centre back Ciaran Clark solely on his club performances. Paul Lambert's side have been struggling this season and have been enduring a poor run of form which sees them hovering over the relegation zone.
The Villans have also been knocked out of the League Cup and FA Cup by Bradford City and Millwall respectively, but Trapattoni is keen to emphasise the 23-year-old's attributes as an individual player.
"It's been difficult for him at club level but our squad isn't linked to performances at club level in every single case," he said. "If that was the case I'd have to exclude many players because some of them aren't even playing.
"From the point of view of his physical conditioning I think it's great that he's playing regularly. He's already demonstrated physically that he's at a high level.
"He's great in the air, he has a great engine on him, He has great power in his legs and he uses it to good effect. Mentally, he his growing a lot as a player too.
"There is one area we've told him he can still work on. He doesn't always have to commit to a challenge, he can hold back. The only way you learn that is to play regularly."
The Republic of Ireland host Poland in a friendly international at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday February 6.