Shay Given’s international future hangs in the balance after he was left out of the Republic of Ireland squad for next month’s international friendly against Poland.
The 36-year-old retired from international football in August after winning his 125th cap against Italy two months beforehand in Poznan in Euro 2012 to concentrate on his club career at Aston Villa.
However, Given lost his place in the midlanders’ first team to American Brad Guzan after just two Premier League matches and has played just six cup matches since, the last of which was the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final loss against League Two Bradford City on Tuesday night.
Given has mulled over his international career and opted to make himself available for selection once more in recent weeks having spoken to manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
But when Ireland’s 27-man squad was named on Monday for the friendly against Poland on Wednesday, February 6, in Dublin, Given’s name was not included.
David Forde of Millwall, Darren Randolph from Motherwell and Sunderland’s Kieren Westwood are in the squad but the only ember of hope that remains for Given is that the Italian manager might be more content to experiment in friendlies.
“I feel that I have to give experience to the likes of Forde, Westwood, Randolph and certainly I have the utmost respect for Shay,” Trapattoni said this week.
“He’s made it clear that if we require him he will be there, but I have said to Shay directly that we do have an obligation to move things on and give younger players experience, it’s very important that we develop that, particularly with these friendly matches. We’re confident in Westwood’s ability and we also have Forde and he gives us a good bit of confidence.”
Seamus Coleman is an injury concern for the match after hobbling off for Everton in Monday’s scoreless draw at Southampton.
The 24-year-old had hoped to use the outing to keep up his run in the Irish side, having started in the last four internationals. Ireland face two pivotal World Cup qualifying fixtures in February away to Sweden and then at home to Austria.
Everton were yesterday assessing the extent of his injury, which appeared to be to the quad muscle, and will decide if the Killybegs native is fit to feature in Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round tie away to Bolton.
Meanwhile, two Donegal teens were named in the Ireland U-19 squad for two friendlies against Czech Republic in Longford on Tuesday, February 5, and again in Athlone on Thursday, February 7, as they build up their preparations for the Uefa Championships elite qualifying round in June.
Ryan McConnell from Letterkenny is on the books of Manchester United and plays primarily at the back and centre-back Kyle McFadden from Ramelton is with Norwich City.
“We’re also taking in a couple of new ones including Ryan McConnell, who was with us with the U18s in November,” manager Paul Doolin said. “He can play in a variety of roles and that is helpful. Kyle McFadden is a centre-back who was injured for the U18s in Switzerland so we wanted to see him.
Doolin is planning on bringing the squad to Malaga from a preparation week in March to help prepare for the elite phase. Ireland meet Serbia, Slovakia and Switzerland in June in the elite qualifying tournament.
He is pleased to have a number of players back at his disposal after injuries curtailed their involvement in the first phase in Luxembourg last October when the Irish finished joint-top of their group with Germany.