Ireland Euro 2012 Squad Preview: Midfielders
All this week, GreenScene will be looking at the possible candidates for Giovanni Trapattoni’s 23 man Republic of Ireland Euro 2012 squad. Part Three looks at Ireland’s midfield options
Since being handed his Ireland debut in Trapattoni’s first game in charge, Whelan has been one of the first names on the teamsheet. The Stoke City midfielder was ever-present in qualifying, starting all twelve of Ireland’s games. He got a taste of European football at club level this season with Stoke, and has helped them consolidate their position in the Premier League table.
Keith Andrews is another Trap debutante, making his first appearance at the age of 28 against Poland, coming off the bench to score. He was behind Paul Green in the pecking order at the start of Euro 2012 qualifying, but has displaced the Derby midfielder to become Trapattoni’s preferred partner to Whelan in the centre. Had an excellent opening to the domestic season, scoring 9 times for Ipswich Town in the Championship, leading to his return to the top flight with WBA.
Ireland’s fifth highest cap holder is a veteran of the 2002 World Cup, where he played all our games and scored against Saudi Arabia. Currently on 95 caps, he could be set to make his 100th appearance against Italy at Euro 2012, providing he plays in both of the international warm-up games. Impressed for Fulham this season, scoring goals that helped them to the group stages of the Europa League.
Missed just one of the qualifiers, starting in eleven games, and scoring against Macedonia and Andorra along the way. The Spartak Moscow winger will be key to Ireland’s success, with Trapattoni depending on his creativity and trickery to make chances and cut in to cause problems for opposition defences. Has had a mixed season with Spartak, but back in the starting eleven, helping them compete for a Champions League spot.
Finally got the move away from Manchester United that Trapattoni had been encouraging, and has been a key member of Everton’s late surge since joining in January. Started just one of the qualifiers, but the Ireland boss has faith in the midfielder, encouraging him to shoot from distance – a tactic which paid off in the Carling Nations Cup against Wales last year.
The former St. Patrick’s Athletic midfielder can play across the midfield, and this versatility should help him make the squad ahead of players who are limited to just one position. He has been deployed out wide and in the centre by Trapattoni, but has greatly improved since settling in the middle under Birmingham City manager Chris Hughton, helping them to the Championship playoffs.
McClean is likely to be the least experienced member of the 23 man squad, having just made his international debut against Czech Republic in February. He has been excellent at club level, with his free-scoring direct wing play at Derry City getting him a move across the water to Sunderland, where he has continued to blossom under new boss Martin O’Neill.
A Steve Staunton inductee, Hunt has been a constant member of Trapattoni squads, with the winger offering pace from the bench. However, he started the second leg of the playoff against Estonia, and was in the starting eleven for seven of the qualifiers in the previous campaign for World Cup 2010. This experience should see him hold his spot in the squad despite an injury-ridden season at Wolves.
Would be the youngest member of the squad if he is included, but Trapattoni may favour more experienced internationals over the Wigan midfielder. Has played just three minutes of competitive international football, and looks more likely to be a key player in World Cup 2014 qualifying rather than over in Poland at Euro 2012. However, his new defensive midfield role at Wigan has won plaudits from Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli, so shouldn’t be ruled out.
Started the first four Euro 2012 qualifiers, but lost his place to Keith Andrews due to injury. Missed the majority of this season, but since returning has been in top form for Derby County and could be a dark horse to make the final squad. Was brought on ahead of James McCarthy in the friendly against Czech Republic, showing Trapattoni still has faith in the centre midfielder.
Euro 2012 might also come too soon for Coleman, with Trap seeing the wideman as one for the future. Can play both right-back and right-midfield, but injuries have severely halted his progress at Everton this season, perhaps scuppering his Euro 2012 chances along the way.
Treacy is just 23 and could also be one for the future, but his demotion to the third tier on loan at Sheffield Wednesday won’t help his Euro 2012 chances. The winger has yet to play a competitive international for Ireland, but if he can win his spot back at Burnley, he might feature in World Cup qualifiers.
At 30, the European Championship this summer is probably Lawrence’s only hope at playing at a major tournament. However, he seems to have dropped down the pecking order under Trapattoni, despite starting three of Ireland’s first four qualifying games. Has not played in a green jersey since the Carling Nations Cup in May 2011, and despite impressing since joining Cardiff on loan, looks unlikely to make the trip to Poland.
Was awarded his senior Irish debut back in 2008 against Colombia, but has not featured for Trapattoni since then. Often mentioned in press conferences, especially after putting in good performances for Norwich, but doesn’t seem to fit “the system” under the Irish management team.