Ireland at Euro 2012: Who'll Be Going?
Giovanni Trapattoni has one way of doing things—his way.
Fortunately for Irish fans, that way has proved successful with Ireland securing their place at the upcoming UEFA European Championships in Poland and Ukraine by defeating Estonia in a two-legged playoff.
Trap's style, however, isn't completely popular with the fans, despite pulling the team up by the scruff of the neck and restoring dignity after the Staunton years.
The Irish team is renowned now for being hard to beat rather than easy-on-eye football. Much of this is down to player selection with the Italian preferring workhorses over flair players, this being most notable in central midfield. Trap's team selection often leave fans scratching their heads, especially when you see who is available on the bench.
Here's a look at who's guaranteed to go (barring injury) who's in with a chance and who we don't want to see on the plane.
Shay Given - Aston Villa - 35
Ireland's record appearance maker is guaranteed a place at the Euro, having been a virtual ever-present between the posts since his debut. One of the top goalies in football, he can be classed as one of Ireland's few truly world-class players.
Kieran Westwood - Sunderland - 27
The Sunderland sometimes-No. 1 is the obvious choice to be Given's understudy, due to his Premier League experience.
Richard Dunne - Aston Villa - 32
The rock at the centre of the defence, Dunne seems to save his best performances for his country.
Remember his heroic almost single handed defence of the Irish goal vs Russia?
Dunne holds the record for the most own goals and joint record for red cards in the Premier League, but when it comes to pulling on a green shirt he's one of the first names on the team sheet.
John O' Shea - Sunderland - 30
The former Manchester United versatility player has made an inconsistent start to his Sunderland career, but he's the obvious choice to take the right back slot with the added bonus of his ability to fill in at centre half.
Sean St. Ledger - Leicester City - 27
Dunne's partner in defence has broken into the Leicester team in the past few weeks after cementing his position in the Ireland team over the past couple of years.
The much-loaned O' Dea is the first choice to replace either Dunne or St. Ledger should they pick up an injury.
Stephen Ward - Wolves - 26
Ward has usurped the position of fan favourite Kevin Kilbane at left back and made it his own, scoring two goals for his country thus far.
Glenn Whelan - Stoke City - 28
Whelan started every game for Ireland in the qualifiers and is firmly established as one of Trapattoni's favourite players.
Keith Andrews - West Brom - 31
Andrews has been in top form for West Brom since his January transfer, scoring twice in the process. Alongside Whelan, he is locked in to start in the middle of the park against Croatia.
Damien Duff - Fulham - 32
One of the few Ireland players with big tournament experience (having played at the World Cup in 2002), Duff will hold off the challenge from Stephen Hunt for the left-wing slot.
Aiden McGeady - Spartak Moscow - 25
He's left-footed, but Duff owns that position so he's shunted out to the right, where he occasionally puts in a cross that doesn't hit the first man. McGeady will worry some opposition defences if he can manage to provide support for the frontmen.
Stephen Hunt - Wolves - 30
The most average super-sub on the go, he's guaranteed a slot on the bench and a 20-minute cameo at some stage in the tournament.
Keith Fahey - Birmingham - 29
In much the same boat as Hunt, Fahey will be amongst the subs, but his greatest contribution will remain that goal against the Armenians in the early stages of qualifying.
Robbie Keane - Los Angeles Galaxy - 31
The first name of any Irish team sheet, the captain has a hugely impressive goal-scoring record at the international level and will be vital, should Ireland hope to have any success.
Kevin Doyle - Wolves - 28
Doyle may not get a goal, but he'll run his socks off trying to help his teammates get one.
Shane Long - West Brom - 25
Long emerged from the shadow of Doyle at Reading last season with an impressive goals return, securing a move to the Premier League in the summer.
Jonathan Walters - Stoke City - 28
He's played virtually every minute for Stoke this season in the league and has impressed with his ability to hold up the ball with his brief appearances for the national team.
Simon Cox - West Brom - 24
An unlikely success at international level, having scored 3 goals already despite not being first choice at club level.
In with a Chance
With 23 spaces to fill, here are the players in with a shout of making the squad.
David Forde - Millwall - 32
Stephen Henderson - Portsmouth - 23
Brian Murphy - QPR - 28
Darren Randolph - Motherwell - 24
Any one of these four are in with a chance with taking the third goalkeeping squad place.
Stephen Kelly - Fulham - 28
Kelly is a strong candidate to go as cover at fullback.
Shane Duffy - Everton - 20
Duffy has yet to make his senior debut but included in recent squads.
Kevin Foley - Wolves - 27
Marc Wilson - Stoke City - 24
Damien Delaney - Ipswich Town - 30
Ciaran Clark - Aston Villa - 22
Outside chance of appearing for these four.
Kevin Kilbane - Hull City - 35
Kilbane made 66 consecutive appearances for Ireland, falling just four short of Billy Wright's record for internationals. He's been ruled out for the season and the Euro with a back injury and with his contract up with Hull in the summer, retirement looms. However, if anyone deserves to go, it is Kilbane whose commitment to the Irish team has been exceptional over the years and his presence would be a huge morale boost for the squad.
Liam Lawrence - Cardiff (on loan from Portsmouth) - 30
Lawrence has been overlooked recently, but is naturally right-footed and his set-piece delivery makes him a contender.
Séamus Coleman - Everton - 23
The man dubbed by Everton team mates as "Seamus Ramos" hasn't featured much under Trapattoni but is a fan's favourite.
James McCarthy - Wigan Athletic - 21
See Séamus Coleman.
Darron Gibson - Everton - 24
Probable favourite to go as cover for Whelan and Andrews.
James McClean - Sunderland - 22
Another left-wing prospect who has shot in to contention in the past two months but may have just arrived too late for Trap's liking.
Keith Tracey - Burnley - 23
Stephen Ireland - Aston Villa - 25
Anthony Stokes - Celtic -23
Andy Keogh - Millwall - 25
Both must hope for an injury to the first five strikers for a chance to go.
Somebody Hide His Passport
Staying Put (we hope)
Paul McShane - Crystal Palace (on loan from Hull City) - 26
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