As Trapattoni’s Euro 2012 squad are packing their bags ahead of their arrival in Dublin over the coming days, one of the twenty three in particular will be buoyant mood. Spartak Moscow’s Aiden McGeady was today named in the Russian Football Union’s list of top 33 players of the 2011/2012 season for the second time.
Each year, the RFU publishes the list at their end of season executive committee and it is somewhat unorthodox in that it names (in order) the top three players in each position. McGeady was listed as the second choice right winger in this year’s list.
As Russia prepares for the switch from summer football, the 2011/2012 season split into two tiers at the start of 2012 and after 44 games came to an end last Sunday. McGeady’s Spartak finished the season on a high with a 2-0 win over their local rivals Lokomotiv Moscow to finish in second place, with the former Celtic winger’s providing the cross for each of his team’s goals.
The Glasgow-born wideman’s form will be a welcome boost to Trapattoni’s Irish squad as they arrive in Dublin for the first leg of their Euro 2012 preparation. The Irish team will take on Bosnia on the 26th May before travelling to Italy for a week and then Budapest for a final warm-up game against Hungary.
There was further good news for “Il Trap” too, as John O’Shea was given the all-clear by medical staff at Sunderland. There were initial concerns that the Waterford native might have done more serious damage after limping off against former club Manchester United, however fears were allayed when a scan came back clear.
Speaking to www.safc.com yesterday, a club spokeswoman said: “John suffered a knock to his ankle in training prior to the Fulham game, which he aggravated slightly in Sunday's game against Manchester United.
"He was taken off as a precaution and following positive results from a scan last night, he will meet up with the Republic of Ireland squad as scheduled next week."
Indeed spirits will be high when the Irish players meet up, but as friendly as they may be toward each other, the competition for a starting berth alongside Robbie Keane in Ireland’s attack is heating up. With Kevin Doyle considered by many to be already in the starting eleven, Shane Long and Jonathan Walters certainly did their bit in making Trapattoni’s decision hard. Walters scored both of Stoke City’s goals on Sunday as his team consigned Bolton Wanderer’s to the Championship, while Long added Arsenal to his list of "big teams he has scored against" at The Hawthorns. With the wily Italian admittedly a fan of Cox, it is anyone’s guess who will start alongside Keane against Croatia.
Finally, as most of the 23 were packing their bags, Ireland captain and LA Galaxy star Robbie Keane was in the White House today to meet US President Barack Obama. Indeed it seems we will have another high profile supporter this summer, as Barack Obama welcomed his “cousin” to Washington.
Addressing the LA Galaxy team, and assembled press, Obama remarked:
“You’ve got Robbie Keane, all-time leading scorer of the Irish national team, cousin of mine."
"Robbie arrived halfway through last season, scored his first goal in the first 21 minutes of his first game. His teammates were so happy to have him that they filled his locker with what they called the "pleasures of Ireland" - Guinness, Bailey’s, and Irish Spring. Hopefully Robbie has broadened their horizons a little bit since then."
Brian Fitzgerald is a Dublin-based reporter who has followed Cork City since the mid 1990's. Brian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on twitter @B_Twitzgerald