Posts Tagged ‘ Keiren Westwood ’

O’Neill Names Ireland Squad For Upcoming Games

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Martin O’Neill has named a provisional 36 man squad for Ireland’s upcoming games against Scotland and USA.

Starting away, Scotland host Ireland in a EURO 2016 qualifier on Friday, November 14 at 7.45pm, before Ireland take on the USA in Aviva Stadium in a Three International Friendly on November 18.

The squad will be shortened ahead of meeting up on November 10. Continue reading

O’Neill Era Begins With Comprehensive Win

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Ireland’s new managerial partnership of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane got their reign off to the best possible start last night as the boys in green beat Latvia 3-0 at Aviva Stadium.

Ireland got off to a solid start when the reinstalled James McClean, a firm favourite of O’Neill during his time at Sunderland, went close with a volleyed effort.

Former Celtic manager O’Neill was keen to employ a quick pass and move tempo and in doing so proved that this Irish team are more than capable of playing the beautiful game. Continue reading

Quartet Return To First Post Trapattoni Ireland Squad

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Noel King today announced a provisional 26 man squad for Ireland’s upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Germany on October 11 in Cologne, and Kazakhstan on October 15 in Aviva Stadium.

The squad will be shortened ahead of the fixtures in order to facilitate injuries with both Robbie Brady and Jon Walters struggling with injury. Continue reading

Five Irish Players Who Need A Move This August

kdAs all football fans know, the summer transfer window is a time of upheaval with fresh starts, new challenges and last chances for managers and players alike. However, sometimes there is a select few players that may be in need of a move to rekindle or enhance their international career.

Here we take a look at five Irish stars who all need a move before the transfer window slams shut at the end of August. Continue reading

Four Uncapped Players In Irish Squad For Poland Clash

jhNorwich City’s Anthony Pilkington has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad to face Poland next month.

Pilkington, a standout performer in the Premier League this season had been capped at Under-21 level back in 2008. The decision to call up the 24 year old will go down well with fans who feel it should have happened a lot sooner. Continue reading

Communication Scandal Envelops Ireland Setup

Ireland kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign this week with a trip to Astana for a first ever meeting with Kazakhstan but preparations for the campaign have been far from rosy.

Communication problems coupled with player retirements and withdrawals have hampered the plans of Giovanni Trapattoni. The retirement of veterans Shay Given and Damien Duff have become something of a blow to Trap yet the changeover should only be cosmetic as both Keiren Westwood and James McClean are able deputies.

But it is the apparent communication problems within the camp that have Irish fans wondering whether everyone in the panel is pulling in the same direction. Since Trap took the hotseat four years ago many players have come and gone , some willingly and others forced. Four names instantly jump to mind when wondering why the wily Italian’s tenure has been somewhat blighted with miscommunication.

Darren Gibson has pulled out of the Kazakh game citing his disappointment for not featuring at Euro 2012 as the reason behind his decision. Interestingly the Derry born player took his time in making the decision, waiting a number of days after the squad was announced to state his intentions. The in-form Everton star is no doubt riled at the fact that he didn’t feature at Euro 2012 and some reports even go as far as saying he almost walked out on the team during the tournament. While that may be mere speculation, Gibson is the latest in a line of players who have become fed up with the Italian’s antics.

You have to cast your mind back to the early days of the Trap era to see the apparent communication problems that ultimately led to the end of Andy Reid’s international career. The former Milan supremo imposed a curfew upon the Ireland team, one which was broken by several players including a guitar wielding Reid. His refusal to go to bed saw Trapattoni bring a sudden end to Reid’s once promising international career, a decision that has been met with furore by players and fans alike.

Pre Euro 2012 and post Euro 2012 have thrown up two other miscommunication conundrums which show that even with an interpreter it would appear Trapattoni still fails to get his message across.

Kevin Foley was a member of the Ireland squad which earned qualification for Euro 2012. The Wolves star was initially named in Trap’s squad for the trip to Poland and Ukraine despite picking up a hamstring injury. He was promised he would be given every opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of the tournament yet on the morning of the squad announcement he was cut from the panel and replaced Paul McShane, a move that left him “betrayed” and began a self imposed exile from the Ireland set up.

West Brom star Shane Long is another to have felt the wrath of the Italian in the wake of the recent Serbia friendly. Long was originally named to start in attack but shortly beforehand he was omitted and replaced by Simon Cox. He was furious and initially it appeared Trap’s reasoning was valid, the player was legitimately injured. However Long was quick to reveal he wasn’t , telling reporters after the game that he was perfectly fit to play the full 90 minutes. He would go on to feature for his club a few days later. His omission has raised a lot of questions about the communication skills of the Irish management team. In the days that followed Trapattoni launched a stinging attack on his striker branding him “idiotic”. While the misdemeanours of all involved havn’t resulted in Long’s omission from the squad it has raised many eyebrows amongst fans and media alike.

The communication problems have been further heightened by Gibson’s withdrawal ahead of such a crucial game. Gibson has been assured that he is more than welcome back into the Ireland set up for the Germany game next month yet the Everton star’s personal exclusion may well put an end to his Ireland career as he will fall down the pecking order if he prolongs his absence.

But what fans and the media really want to know and deserve to know is what the hell is going on behind the scenes? It is evidently clear that there are problems yet many are choosing to blow them under the carpet but not Shane Long. He has stood defiant with his actions following the Serbia game and rightly so, no player should suffer the indecency of having to offer a different excuse than that of his manager. Why wasn’t Trap honest about Long’s exclusion?

How can we prepare for such key games and expect to qualify for the World Cup with such turmoil? The FAI need to intervene immediately and eradicate the friction within the panel or else they risk allowing a manager whose pockets are laden with their money ruin the hopes of a nation.

Questions Remain As Ireland Set For Road To Brazil

The Republic of Ireland have been drawn in Group C with Germany, Sweden, Austria, Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan for the qualification stage of FIFA World Cup 2014.

The Boys In Green kick off on the road to Rio with an away trip to Kazakhstan on September 7th, before welcoming Germany to Dublin a month later. Giovanni Trapattoni will be hoping for a change in fortunes having missed out on the last World Cup thanks to that faithful night in Paris. Trap ventures towards the qualifying campaign still not knowing what players he has at his disposal. Shay Given has already announced his international retirement and will be replaced by Keiren Westwood, a player the Italian has a lot of faith in. But the likes of Richard Dunne, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane all have question marks remaining over their future. Trapattoni will be hopeful the trio can make swift decisions on their futures in order to allow him to prepare effectively for the upcoming campaign.

Germany

It’s an exciting time to be a German fan with the current squad at Joachim Loew’s disposal. World renowned stars such as Mario Gomez and Bastian Schweinstieger, the rising talents of Marco Reus and Andreas Schurrle , they really do have the complete squad despite their failure to win Euro 2012.

The Germans always pose a threat to any team and this current crop of stars is no different. The beaten Euro 2012 semi finalists and Sweden will be Ireland’s biggest opponents as they seek to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Ireland face a tough start to the qualifiers and will need to get a favourable result when the Germans come to Dublin in October, something which is easier said than done. This Ireland team is in a period of transition both in terms of personnel and tactics. If the team isn’t settled prior to the October clash then it will be worrying what the Germans might do to us, especially when you consider our own performance at Euro 2012.

Germany are in a similar bracket to Spain and Italy. Many would bet against Ireland getting a result against Germany but then again it’s not something we haven’t done before. Remember Robbie Keane’s last ditch equaliser at the 2002 World Cup? Or more recently the nil all draw at Croke Park in 2007?

Nonetheless if Trap can diffuse the apparent tension within the squad at present and effectively reshuffle his pack, a positive result is achievable.

Sweden

The Swedes have come a long way since a 3-0 mauling in Dublin in 2006, the first match of Steve Staunton’s doomed managerial career as Ireland manager. Erik Hamren’s side competed at both Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 although they narrowly missed out on the 201 World Cup.

Sweden were disappointing at Euro 2012. Many expected them to challenge France and England for the top two spots while the Ukraine were also in with a shout. Sweden lost their opening two games against Ukraine (1-2) and England (2-3) before conjuring up a credible 2-0 win over France but by that stage they were already eliminated. They failed to flatter at the Euros and much expectation was placed on the shoulders of the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but one man doesn’t make a team as was proven.

Ireland shouldn’t necessarily fear the Swedes, the two sides are fairly equal. If Ireland are to stand any chance of getting out of this group they must remain undefeated against the Swedes. A win in Dublin is vital while a draw in Stockholm would be credible.

Austria

Ireland will expect six points from their two meetings with Austria, a team they haven’t faced since suffering two successive 3-1 wins in 1995 whilst enroute to a Euro 96 playoff with Holland.

Austria have always been an average nation on the international front. The last competition they qualified for was the 1998 World Cup although they made an appearance at Euro 2008, thanks to their co-hosting responsibilities securing them automatic qualification.

They do however have some players who are more than capable of posing a threat to Irish aspirations. Marc Janko (FC Porto) and Marko Arnautovic (Werder Bremen) are two strikers that are well respected around Europe and offer a potent goal threat while rising Bayern Munich star David Alaba is also one to watch.

Faroe Islands

It was set up to be a battle between Trap and former Ireland manager Brian Kerr but sadly the former St Patricks Athletic manager has left his post in Torshavn despite making great strides with a poor team. The Faroes have never qualified for a major tournament.

The Faroe Islands are a country we have become accustomed to in recent years. They are always seen as the whipping boys of the group yet in the past we have found it tough against them although we always break them down in the end and come away with the victory.

You have to cast your mind back to the 2006 World Cup qualifiers to see the last time the Boys In Green battle the islanders, recording a 2-0 win in both the home and away tie. Similar scorelines should be plausible this time around. Goal difference may prove to be a factor in this group and if it does we must take our chances against the Faroes and not rest on our laurels.

 Kazakhstan

Ireland’s trek to Astana will see Trap’s side battle Kazakhstan for the first time ever, as the Kazakh’s only joined UEFA in 2002. The country has no record of ever qualifying for any major competitions and their status is best viewed by looking at their squad which boasts only two players who play outside the country.

The trek to Astana offers something of an unknown quantity yet despite the soaring heat and difficult conditions out there we should be able to record a comprehensive win to kickstart our campaign.

Predictions

1-Germany

2-Ireland

3-Sweden

4-Austria

5-Faroe Islands

6-Kazakhstan

 

 

Boys In Green Look To Set Premier League Alight

The Premier League kicks off next weekend and Irish fans will have a keen eye on proceedings as the World Cup qualifiers loom. Following a poor Euro 2012 campaign, Irish fans will be eager to see the Boys In Green performing well for their clubs before Kazakhstan and Germany come calling.

Something that has become a recent trend is the number of Irish stars who are dropping down a level and this trend has certainly been prevalent this summer. Both Keith Andrews and Simon Cox have swapped West Brom for The Championship while Darren O’Dea scored a surprising move to Major League Soccer side Toronto FC. Of course with Wolves been relegated that further reduces the number of Irish players plying their trade in the top flight. Kevin Doyle, Stephen Ward, Stephen Hunt and Kevin Foley all look set to remain at Molineux and help the club bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt. Sean St Ledger, Keith Fahey, David Forde and Paddy Kenny will also be prominent features in the Championship this term while the likes of Robbie Keane and Aiden McGeady are still plying their trade outside the British Isles.

But what about those Irish players remaining in the Premier League?

Everton will be hoping to qualify for Europe this term and will be buoyed by the fact that they have retained the services of long serving manager David Moyes, who spurned the advances of Spurs after Harry Redknapp was dismissed from White Hart Lane. Moyes has added smartly to his squad given his limited resources with both Stephen Pienaar and Steven Naismith joining The Toffees. Much is expected of the free scoring Nikica Jelavic but this hardworking Everton outfit will be largely reliant on the skill and tenacity of Seamus Coleman combined with the graft and experience of Darren Gibson, who seems rejuvenated having left Manchester United last January. Shane Duffy will be hoping to establish himself in The Toffees defence following some superb displays last term.

Robbie Brady will be hoping to break into the senior international set up quite soon. The Manchester United player has enjoyed a solid pre season and Alex Ferguson sees him as an adequate competitor for Patrice Evra’s full back position. With Evra ageing, Brady’s time looks set to be on the horizon although few would have expected the winger to convert to a full back following his tremendous displays on loan at Hull City last season

James McClean will be hoping to maintain his sensational start to life in the Premier League with Sunderland. Martin O’Neill will have his first full season at the Stadium of Light and despite the lack of transfer activity on Wearside you can expect Sunderland to push for a top ten finish while enjoying a solid cup run. John O’Shea will continue to hold up the rearguard while Keiren Westwood looks resigned to a number two role yet again. David Meyler will be hoping to have an injury free season and catch the eye of Giovanni Trapattoni in the process.

Hope springs eternal at Villa Park as the new season ushers in the era of Paul Lambert as Aston Villa boss. The club have overhauled their managerial structure and have rid of some players who simply weren’t up to scratch. There is still a strong Irish contingent at Villa Park though and it remains to be seen whether Shay Given and Richard Dunne will pack in international football in order to further their club careers. Ciaran Clark will be hoping for another solid season while under 21 star Samir Carruthers may well break into the first team following his substitute appearances last term. Stephen Ireland will be looking to re-establish himself among the Premiership elite and could be a key player for Lambert who will be aiming for a top eight finish and perhaps a league cup win. Keep an eye out for Enda Stevens, Graham Burke and Derrick Williams, three upcoming Irish stars who may well burst onto the scene this year.

Fulham are another side hoping to crack the top eight this term following a ninth place finish last season under the guidance of Martin Jol. The Dutchman has done well to retain the services of Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele thus far as both players have courted interest from many clubs. Damien Duff and Stephen Kelly will be hoping to pick themselves up following Euro 2012. Duff will be looking to recover his form of old while Kelly, who recently signed a new contract, will be hoping to fend off new signing Sascha Riether to make the right back spot his own.

West Brom will do well to build on their tenth place finish from last term. Steve Clarke has taken over at the helm and opted to show Andrews and Cox the door. Steven Reid and Shane Long both remain at The Hawthorns and the latter will face increased competition for a starting berth this term following the arrivals of Markus Rosenberg and Romelu Lukaku.

Jon Walters will be hoping to set the Premier League alight this term following his appearances at Euro 2012. The striker will be hoping he can find the golden touch to fire The Potters to a better finish than last year. Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson and Rory Delap all remain at the Britannia and will be key players as Tony Pulis’ side seek to build on a 14th place finish.

Wigan Athletic will be looking to avoid the drop again this season and will be delighted that manager Roberto Martinez has stayed with them. Martinez masterminded their terrific end of season form last year which saw solid wins over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. With limited resources he will do well to repeat that feat. There will be a heavy reliance on James McCarthy, who was a key player last term and was forced to miss Euro 2012 due to his father’s illness. Conor Sammon is the only other Irish player at the DW Stadium but for all his apparent strength goals have been hard to come by for the ex League of Ireland star and he will need a big change if he plans on cracking Trap’s plans.

QPR have enjoyed a great summer with their new found wealth enabling them to buy talented stars such as Park Ji Sung and David Hoilett. It’s been all change at Loftus Road, particularly in the goalkeeper ranks where Paddy Kenny has departed for Leeds United. Brian Murphy remains with QPR as a capable deputy to new number one Robert Green. Mark Hughes side shouldn’t have to worry about having another relegation battle this season.

Norwich City will be hoping second season syndrome doesn’t strike this term. It’s been all change at Carrow Road with ex Ireland international Chris Hughton replacing Lambert in the dugout. Hughton will do well to keep the Canaries up and will be looking to Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington as key players in doing so. Both players excelled last term with Hoolahan the most impressive. The former Shelbourne star has been unlucky this past week as he was forced to withdraw from Ireland’s friendly with Serbia due to injury. Nonetheless, he will be buoyed by the fact that he has finally caught the eye of Trapattoni. Marc Tierney may well earn an Ireland call up in the near future and the full back is one worth watching.

Premier League newcomers Reading will be aiming for top flight survival this term but under the guidance of Irishman Brian McDermott many expect that to be a formality. Promoted last season as champions, this Reading side features a host of Irish players. Following an impressive season last year Ian Harte was widely tipped for a shock return to the Ireland set up for Euro 2012. While that never happened it won’t discourage the ex Leeds United star who will be hoping to show he still possesses the quality to compete in the top flight. Noel Hunt will be hoping to blaze a goal trail which will earn him a return to the Ireland side while Jay Tabb is another Irish star involved with the first team. Pierce Sweeney, recently signed from League of Ireland side Bray Wanderers, may feature this term while ex Shamrock Rovers ace Karl Sheppard has been loaned to Accrington Stanley.

Playoff winners West Ham United have returned to the Premier League and will have solid ambitions which won’t feature a relegation battle. Sam Allardyce has added some fine talent to his squad and has made Irish keeper Stephen Henderson permanent, following a loan spell from Portsmouth last season. Joey O’Brien is the only other Irish player at Upton Park and he will be hoping for a standout season having been called up to the Ireland squad for the upcoming Serbia game. The three times capped star hasn’t pulled on the green jersey in over four years and will be hoping he can re-establish himself within the Irish setup. The 26 year old certainly has time on his side and time will tell if he can live up to the hype that was associated with him during his days with Bolton Wanderers.

With the World Cup qualifiers fast approaching and Trapattoni open to shuffling his pack, the time is ripe for a new star to emerge and stake his claim for a starting place.

Conservative Trap Names Predictable Euro 2012 Squad

“It has not been easy choosing 23 players because we have many other very good players who deserve to be here.”  The words used by the wily tactician that is Giovanni Trapattoni as he announced his squad for the 2012 European Championships. Despite the Ireland manager’s quotes to the context, it would have been a difficult decision to decide the vast majority of the players who are now in the squad.

At half three yesterday the Italian announced his squad for Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign. The squad featured: 

Shay Given, Keiren Westwood, David Forde, Richard Dunne, John O’Shea, Sean St. Ledger, Darren O’Dea, Stephen Ward, Stephen Kelly, Kevin Foley, Glenn Whelan, Darren Gibson, Keith Andrews, Keith Fahey, Damien Duff, Aiden McGeady, Stephen Hunt, James McClean, Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle, Simon Cox, Shane Long, Jonathan Walters.

Standby: Darren Randolph, Paul McShane, Paul Green, Seamus Coleman, Andy Keogh.

The phrase “as expected” comes to mind when describing the squad, which is far from a bad thing. Continuity is a necessity at international level, something Trapattoni and his team have done right over his tenure as Republic of Ireland manager.

The first 11 picks itself, Given, O’Shea, Dunne, St.Ledger, Ward, Duff, Andrews, Whealan, McGeady, Keane, Doyle. The squad members are there to be used but only if necessary. The likes of James McClean, Stephen Hunt, Jonathan Walters, Shane Long and Simon Cox will have a good chance of getting on the pitch in Poland with the latter trio more then likely to replace Kevin Doyle after he runs himself into the ground. But aside from that, injuries not withstanding there will be very little change in the team.

James McCarthy will be one player who will not be on the plane to Poland after announcing his decision to withdraw from consideration after his father was diagnosed with cancer. “I have made the very difficult decision to withdraw my name from selection from the Euro 2012 squad following the diagnosis of my father with cancer and an ongoing requirement for treatment” he stated.

“I have discussed this with the manager. He was very understanding and I thank him sincerely for that.”I take this opportunity to re-affirm my complete commitment to playing for the Republic of Ireland, It is a huge honour and source of great pride for me and my family.”

He went on to wish his teammates luck stating “despite not being present, I would like to wish the manager and my team-mates every success at the tournament and hope that Irish fans can understand the reason for my decision at this difficult time.”

Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign starts on Sunday June 10th in Poznan when the Republic of Ireland takes on Croatia. Four days later on June 14th they take on world and European Champions Spain in Gdansk. The final fixture takes place on Monday June 18th when the boys in green take on Italy.

Has Trapattoni got his squad right? Will the team be good enough to compete with Spain, Italy and Croatia? Can the team advance beyond the group stage? All interesting questions all will be answered next month.