Trap hopeful of fitness boost
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is confident Sean St. Ledger and Caleb Folan will recover from their respective knocks to be fit for the 2010 World Cup qualifier against Cyprus in Nicosia this Saturday night.
Both players sat out Tuesday's first training session of the week at Gannon Park, Malahide but the manager admitted afterwards he's not expecting their ailments to present a fitness worry. Folan sustained a minor ankle injury during Hull City's draw against Wolves on Saturday while Sean St. Ledger's knee complaint forced him to be substituted late on for Preston North End at Ipswich Town.
"Today, I wished to check the condition of the players," said Trapattoni. "(Caleb) Folan is okay and should train tomorrow. (Sean) St. Ledger is resting and will also be with us tomorrow."
It may be four days to the game in Cyrpus but Trapattoni is already emphasising certain fundamentals to his players. Ireland's campaign to reach next year's World Cup in Cyprus has taken shape after seven qualifying games in Group 8 but the defeat to Australia last month was a wake-up call for the players.
"I said to the players today that we have to think about how we conceded against Poland after only three minutes, and when we conceded after thirty minutes against Australia.
"When the team is not compact, like so against Australia, it disrupts the balance. The team is strong when it is compact. We have to change our mentality; this must be done for our morale and trust.
"In the Australia match, two or three our players did not play their normal game but we have watched those players grow since then.
"Kevin Doyle, for example, is better today and one or two of the others are also in better condition."
While Ireland have no first-choice players ruled out of Saturday's game through injury or suspension, Cyprus will be without key duo Michael Konstantinou and Konstantinos Makridis because of suspension.
"Cyprus will have two very important players missing but their replacements will be technical, fast players," explained Trap.
"They have a lot of midfield players, eight to choose from, and we must be under no illusion about this Cyprus team.
"They played well at home to Italy in the group and could have been 3-0 ahead only for the Italian goalkeeper. Their 6-1 defeat against Albania last month was a misleading result but we must not go there thinking about trying to draw the game. When teams think too much about a draw, that's when they lose."