SUNDERLAND duo Keiren Westwood and James McClean are waiting for the call as Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni considers all possibilities to salvage the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign.
The two Black Cats were unused subs as the Republic’s competition got off to the worst possible start with a 3-1 defeat to Croatia last night.
But both could come into contention for involvement in the daunting qualifying games against Spain on Thursday and Italy (next Monday).
Westwood’s involvement would be the most controversial, for it would mean replacing Irish icon and the Republic’s leading international appearance maker Shay Given.
But there have been huge question marks over the Villa keeper’s fitness and form going into the tournament and his display against Croatia will only have increased those further.
Whether or not his failure to keep out Croatia’s early opening goal from Mario Mandzukic was down to restricted move caused by his injured knee or just unfortunate positioning, is something the Irish camp will be examining and his performance was not enhanced by a headed own goal for Croatia’s third – a shot from Mandzukic striking the base of the post, hitting Given on the forehead and flying in.
Westwood has said all along he is a big admirer of Given and Trapattoni considers the former Newcastle keeper as one of the first names on his team-sheet but if Given is struggling, the Italian is likely to prefer a fully-fit keeper between the posts for the daunting challenges presented by the Republic’s next two opponents.
McClean, too, could also be given his opportunity.
The Republic will need goals to have any change of joy against the defending champions and McClean’s attacking abilities could be even more important against the famously defensively stubborn Italians next week.
John O’Shea played the full 90 minutes for the Irish in a game which ended in heartbreak, but the Sunderland defender could well be joined on the pitch by his club team-mates before the tournament is over.