RTE football analyst Eamon Dunphy has claimed it would be a “sackable offence” if Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni refuses to start Seamus Coleman in the upcoming Celtic Nations Cup game against Wales.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat, Dunphy insists he is becoming frustrated with the unwillingness of the Italian to take a chance on new faces. He insists players such as Coleman, Ciaran Clark and James McCarthy must be given their chance if the Irish team is to progress.
Coleman was inexplicably left on the substitutes’ bench for the international friendly against Norway at the Aviva Stadium in November, a match that Ireland lost 2-1. Despite calls from the scantly populated stadium to include the 22-year-old in the closing stages, Trapattoni resisted and instead introduced more experienced players such as Aiden McGeady and Stephen Hunt.
“Trapattoni should play Coleman and if he doesn’t I think it is a sackable offence,” Dunphy said yesterday. “If he doesn’t play him, and remember he should have in the last match, then it’s unbelievable.
“It was nonsense for Trapattoni to say against Norway he didn’t want to take a chance on Coleman in case we lost the game. We lost it anyway and he lost the chance to blood this lad and give him a taste of things to come. It could have prepared the young man for the big games that we have to play. The first time you start in a green shirt is a big day.”
Coleman, a former St Catherine’s and Sligo Rovers defender, has been one of the form players in the Premier League this season, so much so he was named as Everton’s Player of the Month for November. Manager David Moyes made the bold move to move Coleman, who is traditionally a full-back, to a more advance role in midfield and the gamble has paid dividends with the Killybegs native scoring on five occasions and contributing much more besides.
“Seamus is a top, top class player now and he can play either at full-back or right-side of midfield,” Dunphy continued. “He’s going to be a super player. He is already. The hint Trapattoni is dropping, saying he doesn’t need a right-back and things like this, suggest that he won’t pick Coleman. For me, Coleman ticks all the boxes. He can defend and he can attack. Not playing him is illogical and unforgivable in my view. It’s a no-brainer.
“I don’t know how often Trapattoni has seen him play. Coleman has played very well for Everton on the right of midfield and that’s where we need players. Liam Lawrence is there at the minute and he’s a good lad. I like him but he’s not in the same league as Coleman for energy, for pace, or in terms of danger.
“Coleman is progressive and is a good character. He’s just what we need in the team and not to play him would just be beyond belief. It’s the moment of truth for Trapattoni. If he doesn’t play Coleman or get us the result he needs, then he should be on his bike.”
As well as Coleman, Dunphy, himself a former international, thinks fixtures like the one against Gary Speed’s Wales on February 8 are perfect for including the next generation of Irish players. Twenty-year-old Clark, who is a former underage England international that opted to declare for Ireland last year, is one such player.
The London-born Aston Villa defender-cum-midfielder’s father Michael was brought up in Milford, while the player’s grandmother Vera Clark now resides in Manorcunningham.
McCarthy, also 20, made his first appearance for Wigan Athletic in three months against Villa on Tuesday night and scored in a 2-1 defeat. He is considered another player with a bright future. Although born in Glasgow, the former Hamilton Academical midfielder declared for Ireland as his late grandfather Packie Coll was from Gweedore.
McCarthy, with only one senior appearance under his belt in the friendly international against Brazil at the Emirates last February, has not been included in the 29-man squad for the Wales game. And although he has worn the green jersey before, the fact remains, like Clark, he is still not tied to Ireland as he has not played competitively and that means he still has to option to declare for the country of his birth.
“There are a lot of Irish players struggling to get into their club sides,” Dunphy added. “Robbie Keane is not getting football, neither is Shay Given nor Glen Whelan, but the likes of Ciaran Clark should be in the Irish team.
“He is very versatile and although he is currently playing left-back I would place him in Whelan’s position, because he’s sharp in midfield, can tackle and is aggressive when he needs to be. He can score goals, like the important one he got for Villa at Chelsea.
“Trapattoni is extremely conservative in all his selections so far, but young McCarthy at Wigan has to be capped. Otherwise he can walk away from us. He should have played a lot of games for us by now, which suggests that Trapattoni is not doing the job as he should.
“He has the chance now against Wales to rectify it, but if he doesn’t he will be signing his own death warrant. Coleman, Clark and McCarthy are all playing well and playing Premier League football.
“The public are well aware of what needs to be done and if it is not done there will be consequences for Trapattoni at the end of these qualifiers.”
Dunphy is also sympathetic of the position that Shay Given finds himself in at Manchester City. Thirty-four-year-old Given has not started a Premier League match for the Eastlands side since last April when he dislocated a shoulder against Arsenal in London. Even after he recovered in the close season, manager Roberto Mancini opted for England international Joe Hart.
“Obviously your reflexes and your match sharpness are important goalkeepers, but Shay is such a great professional that works hard on the training ground,” Dunphy said. “He is one of the top goalkeepers in the world. He’s magnificent and has been unfortunate.
“Hart is also a very good goalkeeper and perhaps the age thing and the future is why Mancini left Shay out, but I would not have left him out. It was a controversial decision and Shay hadn’t done anything wrong but it’s just one of a number of strange decisions Mancini has made.”