Republic hit by injury problems
Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni was tonight facing the prospect of having to piece together a team for a daunting World Cup qualifier against Germany.
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The 73-year-old Italian has been hit by a series of withdrawals through injury and will head into Friday's clash with the Group C favourites in Dublin without six of the men who started the 2-0 defeat by Italy in their final Euro 2012 fixture, with Shay Given and Damien Duff having retired and Sean St Ledger, Glenn Whelan, James McClean and Kevin Doyle having joined Richard Dunne on the casualty list.
McClean's absence was confirmed early on Monday afternoon when the Football Association of Ireland revealed that a scan on Wearside had revealed a hip flexor strain which will prevent the Sunderland winger from playing against the Germans and could yet keep him out of next Tuesday's trip to the Faroe Islands.
A spokesman said: "The results of James McClean's scan this morning in Sunderland showed a grade one hip flexor strain which will certainly rule him out for the Germany match and may exclude him for the Faroe Islands.
"McClean will remain at his club to receive treatment."
He was swiftly, and not unexpectedly, joined on the sidelines by St Ledger and Whelan when scans confirmed the full extent of the hamstring injuries the pair suffered on club duty with Leicester and Stoke respectively over the weekend.
The spokesman said: "Further to scans earlier in the day, both Sean St Ledger and Glenn Whelan have been confirmed as out of both matches against Germany and the Faroe Islands."
As a result, Trapattoni has drafted Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark into the squad with Sunderland's David Meyler and Manchester United's Robbie Brady having already joined up as additional players.
Los Angeles Galaxy striker Robbie Keane and Spartak Moscow midfielder Aiden McGeady will arrive in time for training tomorrow as Trapattoni attempts to plot a path through an increasingly littered minefield.
However, he is simply not prepared to run the risk of starting a player who may break down within minutes of kick-off in such a big game.
Trapattoni said: "I can't speak as doctor - I am manager. But muscle injuries need time, time, time.
"You don't want a player to play 10, 15, 20, 70 minutes and then have hamstring injury again. I don't want to take risks.
"It's very important, this game. We also need to make our three substitutions to change the game, not because of injuries from before."
The absence of Dunne and St Ledger mean it is likely that John O'Shea will be asked to move into central defence and that Stephen Kelly could replace him at full-back.
James McCarthy, Meyler and Keith Fahey are candidates to fill the berth vacated by regular central midfielder Whelan, although Trapattoni has hinted that Germany's pace and power could prompt him to opt for five men in the middle of the pitch behind a lone striker.
Trapattoni is yet to make hard and fast decisions either on system or personnel, but he knows the Germans will provide the sternest of tests of his side's qualification credentials.
He said: "Germany is strong team. We know their quality, their offensive potential. They are first in the table and one of the strongest teams in Europe, the world maybe."
Meanwhile, Trapattoni played down suggestions that he and assistant Marco Tardelli were still trying to talk Duff out of his international retirement.
The pair suggested that Fulham midfielder could return last month, but have now accepted that he will not.
Trapattoni said: "We asked him once. He said 'No'."