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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 8, 2008

Trapattoni retains Keane as Ireland skipper

Giovanni Trapattoni has chosen to retain Robbie Keane as Republic of Ireland captain and will meet with defenders Steve Finnan and Andy O'Brien in a bid to persuade them to come out of international retirement.

The Italian's assistants Liam Brady and Marco Tardelli unveiled the Italian's first Republic of Ireland squad at the Football Association of Ireland's headquarters in Dublin today.

They announced a 40-man preliminary party which will be whittled down to 28 ahead of the training camp in Portugal in late May, with Trapattoni keen to involve Liverpool full-back Finnan and Bolton centre-back O'Brien in his future plans.

Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny and Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland, who were not involved in Steve Staunton's latter days as boss, were included in the squad while Brady admitted that Trapattoni wanted Keane to remain as skipper.

'I thought I might get that question today so I rang Giovanni and Robbie is captain and will stay as captain - he has a lot of personality and experience,' Brady said.

'I've also made contact with Steve Finnan and Andy O'Brien - in the case of Andy I've spoken to his father and I'd like him to agree to meet with me and the manager in the next few weeks.

'Steve Finnan has agreed to meet me in the next two weeks and I'm hoping that's a good sign.

'I hope it's good because Trapattoni has been watching these games (Ireland's qualifiers) and keeps talking to me about him and wants him badly.

'I believe it will take the manager to convince the players to come back and in that we have to look at (goalkeeper) Dean Kiely too, not just Andy and Finnan.

'Giovanni has already been in touch with (Manchester City boss) Sven-Goran Eriksson and had a chat with him about Stephen Ireland. I know Sven would like him to come back because international football can help you as a player.'

He continued: 'I'm very optimistic it will be sorted out - I haven't heard that he doesn't want to be in the squad so we will be speaking to him and he will definitely be in the 28 unless he says he doesn't want to be. If there are any issues to be resolved we're happy to speak with him.'

The squad includes seven players from Roy Keane's Sunderland, prompting questions over the uneasy relationship between Keane and Brady that stems from Keane's actions at the 2002 World Cup, which ended with Ireland playing without the Manchester United midfielder who left the team's pre-tournament training camp.

Speaking last week in Dublin, Keane mocked Brady's appointment, labelling him as nothing more than a 'translator' for Trapattoni, but the Arsenal academy director was keen to put personal differences aside.

'I was very surprised - that it took so long,' Brady joked of Keane's insult. 'You know as well as I do that Roy and myself go back a long way, with a difference in opinion of how things went in 2002.

'I took my stance, and in all probability what he had to say was down to that particular stance. I have to work with him, the new manager has to work with him.

'He's done a great job with Sunderland and it looks like they will stay up so I hope him, and his assistants, can develop the Ireland players who are with him.

'I think it's time now to forget about that. It's about Trapattoni, we have a campaign to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa and that's all that matters.

'My personal issue with Roy should be totally forgotten and that's what I'm doing from today.'

Four former Ireland internationals were named to complete 'Team Trap' with Alan Kelly returning as goalkeeping coach, while Mick Lawlor takes up the role as kit manager and Frank Stapleton and Mick Martin are involved in scouting.