REPUBLIC of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni will embark upon a rare scouting mission to watch Sunderland’s trip to Stoke City on Saturday.
Trapattoni has not taken a pro-active stance in watching Ireland’s players in the flesh during his four years in charge, preferring to leave his scouting missions to assistant Marco Tardelli.
But one of the conditions of the under-pressure Italian veteran remaining in his post, has been that he attends Premier League matches on a more regular basis.
Trapattoni will therefore watch this weekend’s clash at the Britannia Stadium, potentially featuring seven players in contention for next month’s friendly against Greece.
Stoke pair Marc Wilson and Jonathan Walters are both expected to start, while midfielder Glenn Whelan could be back in the Potters squad after recovering from a hamstring strain.
Sunderland duo John O’Shea and Keiren Westwood – who won’t feature unless first-choice keeper Simon Mignolet is ruled out – are shoo-ins to be selected by Trapattoni.
But Trapattoni will be keeping a close eye on David Meyler and James McClean.
Meyler made his competitive bow for his country as a last-minute substitute during the 4-1 victory in the Faroe Islands earlier this month.
And the 6ft 3in midfielder could play a part in countering Stoke’s aerial bombardment after making his only top-flight start under Martin O’Neill during last season’s 1-0 victory at the Britannia.
McClean’s performance will be even more intriguing for Trapattoni after opting not to select the winger for the Faroes clash after he missed the 6-1 thumping by Germany four days earlier with a groin problem.
The 23-year-old criticised Trapattoni in the wake of Ireland’s narrow victory in Kazakhstan last month and has been unable to hold down a regular spot in his country’s starting XI.
Trapattoni is due to name his squad early next week for the Greece friendly that takes place on Wednesday, November 14.