Glenn Whelan: “Marc Wilson still in Trapattoni’s plans”
Stoke City midfielder Glenn Whelan has revealed that Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has told teammate Marc Wilson that “he’s not out of his plans.”
Whelan, who was promoting the new adidas Predator® Lethal Zones football boot, spoke about new squad inclusion James McClean, Wilson’s absence, as well as the opening Euro 2012 game against Croatia. Whelan has admitted that there is a lot of pressure on the young Sunderland winger, especially after comparisons to Alessandro Del Piero at the squad announcement. “For James, everything has gone right for him at the right time, but he is only a young lad and has only just got into the Sunderland team so I don’t think anybody, especially us as players and people of the press, should be putting the pressure on him.”
Whelan was compared to Genaro Gattuso by Trapattoni, so he is used to the Italian’s approach. “You know Trap, he comes out with a few things now and again,” Whelan said. “James doesn’t need the pressure of being compared to this player and that player because if it doesn’t work for him then the shoe is on the other foot and people will want to forget about him and say ‘oh look, there’s someone else’. The big thing for James was getting in the squad, so what does he want to do now? Does he just want to stay in the squad or get in the team? That’s what he has to look at. Get in the team first and do well. We need people who are on form and he is definitely one of them.”
Stoke City teammate Marc Wilson hasn’t featured for Ireland since pulling out of last year’s Croatia friendly through injury, but Whelan explained that Trapattoni and Wilson have been in contact about the left-back’s future involvement in the Irish squad. “I spoke to Marc and he said that he’d spoken to the manager of Ireland and he’s told him he’s not out of his plans,” Whelan said. “Marc was delighted to get the phone call because he knew people were still watching him.
“I don’t think it was ever anything to come from Mark. I think he always wanted to play, he always made himself available but he wasn’t picked at times so what can you do? You can’t twist a manager’s arm to say, ‘you should pick me’. All Marc had to do was keep doing what he was doing which was playing well for Stoke and then people were going to notice.”
Whelan feels that qualifying was just the first step, and that a good start in Ireland’s first game against Croatia is all that is important now: “The last thing we want is to be beaten heavily be Croatia and then find that the confidence is gone and the fans are worried about what’s going to happen against Spain and Italy so, no, as players I don’t think we’ve achieved anything yet. Qualifying is great but qualifying and then being a disappointment over there is not what we want so we want to go and give ourselves the best chance of getting out of the group.
“We know it is going to be tough. Spain is going to be a massive game but then we would rather play Spain than, without any disrespect, someone like a Poland or a Ukraine because the spotlight is going to be on Spain with the favourites’ tag and all of their achievements of the last few years.
“I think you are going to find yourself in games against teams that have a lot of possession. We see that in the Premiership, but as long as they have the ball and they’re not scoring then you’re okay. Obviously if they have a lot of possession and they’re scoring goals left, right and centre then you’re worried. But I’m sure the manager will have a game-plan and he’ll think of a way of playing that will suit us as best as he can.
“Anyway, I think we’re thinking too far ahead. I think the Croatia one is a massive one first. If you get a result from the first one then no matter what happens against Spain you’ve still got a chance to qualify against Italy then. So we know and the players know that the thing is to worry about Croatia; that’s got to be the biggest game in our group even though we play Spain and Italy as well. I think the first game is always crucial in any tournament that you play.”