Giovanni Trapattoni has refused to call an end to Richard Dunne's international career following the defender's omission from the Republic of Ireland squad for next month's friendly with Wales.
There were no major shocks at the squad announcement, although some stalwarts from previous campaigns have missed out, with captain Robbie Keane and Dunne the most notable absentees despite the latter's permanent move to Championship side QPR.
Speaking at the squad announcement in Bray, Trapattoni refused to definitively rule Dunne out of contention for Ireland's World Cup qualification campaign. "Never! I was in touch with him," Trapattoni declared. "You continue and we won’t forget you. Getting playing and we will see, we also think about [Kevin] Doyle and [Keith] Andrews."
Logistically it was not feasible for captain Robbie Keane to be involved as his MLS outfit, LA Galaxy, have important fixtures in the three days before and after the friendly in Cardiff. Keane’s omission, however, could pave the way for winger Anthony Pilkington to finally make his international debut having pulled out of previous squads through injury.
Trapattoni did his best to bring out the positives and look forward to the future, saying that the competition for places within the team delights him. "In the past it was [Shay] Given, no discussion. Now we have [David] Forde, [Keiren] Westwood and [Darren] Randolph. Keane doesn’t play but we have [Shane] Long, [Simon] Cox, [Jon] Walters and Conor [Sammon]."
Trapattoni believes that the Wales friendly on August 14 will be beneficial for the side, as it will be a "new experience, against a young talented side with lots of personality."
He believes that Gareth Bale will be Wales' dangerman, singling him out for individual praise. "Fast, good technique, strong," Trapattoni beamed. "Can play on the left, right or second striker. We could double mark him but we don’t know where he will play. He plays with freedom."
August's friendly with Wales will give Trapattoni's players a chance to prepare for September's crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria. However, Trapattoni is still annoyed with the way the Boys in Green let a lead slip in March's home game with the Austrians. “92.37! 92.37!”, Trapattoni exclaimed, referencing the exact second David Alaba equalized for the Austrians, going on to describe the game as "a very disappointing result, which prevented us from going second in the group".
The Italian is under no illusions and knows his side simply must get results from all the remaining qualifying matches if they are to reach a second successive major tournament. “Four games, 12 points. We must believe,” Trapattoni explains.
While Trapattoni is happy to scout and develop young players, “I promise the FAI that I will discover new talents” he bemoans what he described as “the Irish problem”. He is frustrated that “three, four, five, six of the players” are without clubs or going through uncertain contract negotiations. The Italian reiterated that the most important thing is that his players are settled and playing regularly.
Speaking further on the Irish players and potential transfers, Trapattoni proclaimed that his recent remarks on his players needing to play in the Premier League were misinterpreted and managers should not read into them too much. He did go on to state “he would like (James) McCarthy to play in the Premier League, but he has to play. He was a bit shy, but he has been playing more and more at Wigan and his personality has grown”.
At 74 years of age, Trapattoni is still as fiery as ever and shows no signs of winding down. "I love this job. This is my job. I was not on holidays. I have been watching DVDs at home. I am angry because my habit is to win."