Giovanni Trapattoni has done well since taking over the Republic of Ireland international team and has guided them through the Euro qualifiers to

In 2004 the Greek national team stunned the football world by winning the European championship.   They had no star players but a workmanlike team managed by a foreign coach with a decent club record.  They got men behind the ball and soaked up pressure scoring the odd goal from a set piece.   Sound familiar?

Giovanni Trapattoni has done well since taking over the Republic of Ireland international team and has guided them through the Euro qualifiers to the finals.  Can Ireland emulate the Greece success?  They have a tough group realistically the best they can hope for is that they reach the quarter final stage. 

But what if we could merge the existing solid hard-working team with some young and upcoming likely lads?  Could that make a difference and get the boys in green to a different level?   The most concerning aspect of the Irish national team is the fact that Trapattoni has said that he wants to stay loyal to the players that played during the qualification campaign, but I can’t help but question this philosophy.

What impact has this on the “likely lads” such as James McClean, James McCarthy and Shane Duffy’s and does it dent their chances of making the Euro squad?   Ireland’s squad is relatively strong, but it is probably not good enough to compete at the Euro’s top table alongside the likes of Spain, England and The Netherlands.

While McCarthy is doing all he can to help Wigan beat the drop, McClean is playing brilliantly for Sunderland, as the Mackems push for a Europa league place.  Shane Duffy at Everton has done very well too, standing in for the experienced Phil Jagielka who has just come back from injury. 

Giovanni Trapattoni has plenty of options but if he is going to stay loyal to the players that got them there, how can he expect to get the best out of his squad.  While James McClean is in top form for Sunderland and has become a regular fixture in the Sunderland starting team, Stephen Hunt and Damien Duff are struggling for form and failing to make the starting team for their clubs.  How can Trapattoni pick Stephen Hunt over James McClean?

Even in the recent friendly between the Republic of Ireland and the Czech Republic, Trapattoni confused the Irish fans by not giving players like James McClean or Seamus Coleman the chance to impress.  McClean played about 12 minutes and Seamus Coleman or James McCarthy didn’t even get on the pitch.  This really puzzles the average Ireland fan because they what the likes of Aiden McGeady and Keith Andrews can do.  What is the point of playing Keith Andrews for 90 minutes against the Czech Republic?

This is not a personal attack on Andrews or McGeady.  Both will be going to the European championships and deservedly so.  But if Trapattoni does not intend playing the likes of McClean or McCarthy in friendlies, he is wasting the players’ time, wasting the opposition’s time and wasting his own time.  It was evident that the fans wanted to see the new rising stars and their excitement was shown when McClean was ready to come on as a substitute and received a standing ovation.  To only play 12 minutes was an insult to the player in all honesty. 

Seamus Coleman is a talented player who came to the premier league from the Irish Airtricity league.  The former Sligo Rovers star has been fantastic for Everton over the past two seasons and I am mystified as to why he is rarely in the Republic of Ireland starting line-up.  Again Seamus failed to get on the pitch in the friendly match against the Czech Republic.  

As a fan of the Irish national team I was glad to see the likes of Shay Given, Richard Dunne and Robbie Keane get the chance to play in a major competition at an international level.  They may not get another chance to play in a European Championship or World Cup.  But I think the majority of Irish fans will be outraged if McClean does not play at the Euro’s.  Will Irish eyes be smiling this summer or will it be one for Trapattoni to forget?  Ireland are the underdogs in their group so they are playing with no real expectations.  Hopefully there will be a surprise in store.