Andrews keen to play down Ireland's 'day off' controversy


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The Independent Online

An element of agitation was rising in the voice of the otherwise calm Keith Andrews yesterday. For about the fifth time, one of the Irish squad was asked to clarify whether they had expressly gone to manager Giovanni Trapattoni and asked for a day off on Wednesday, whether they felt they were being overworked.

"I think [that issue] has been built up to be more than it is," Andrews said. "The lads spoke to the manager and [he] came to the conclusion that a day off would be best for all concerned. It's as simple as that."

On a certain level, you can understand any frustration. The "day off" story was already being presented on Wednesday in terms of "player power" and forcing the manager's hand.

Clearly, that isn't the case. But it's also not the case that "nobody asked us not to train", as assistant manager Marco Tardelli said yesterday and thereby caused some of the confusion.

Tardelli's comments seemed to be borne of an apparent sense of duty to defuse any potential controversy before it could begin. Here, however, there was no need. Indeed, it probably says much more about the calmness of the Irish camp that something so small became an issue, as Andrews actually praised Trapattoni for his man-management.

"Yeah, [it shows he's flexible]... the vast majority of us are used to the English system where we train for two or three days and have a day off. Italian football is a lot less intense. I think it was just a clever call."

"We've been training a lot.It was nice yesterday to literally do nothing, have a walk around and sample the atmosphere. Spirits are very high."

There was still no sign of Shay Given doing any heavy work – something that has been the case since he went off at half-time in the Hungary friendly and has caused an element of concern. While the rest of the players were competing in a full training match, the No 1 was doing lighter work in the corner.

Tardelli sought to allay such concerns, but only raised further questions. "Shay is fit. I am sure he'll be fit." Asked whether Given would play all three group games, however, Tardelli was oddly evasive. "I don't know. I can't foresee. After Croatia, then we will understand whether he is fit or not for the other games."