By Ed Leahy
Former Ireland international Ray Houghton is shocked that Giovanni Trapattoni has omitted striker Kevin Doyle from the squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
The Ireland manager named his final 23-man squad yesterday for Friday’s clash with Sweden and the home game with Austria four days later, and there was no place for Wolves striker Doyle.
Doyle, who scored the later winner to save Ireland’s blushes in the World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan, was named in Trapattoni’s provisional 29-man squad but now has to settle for a place on the stand-by list, while the manager has decided to call Millwall’s Andy Keogh into the squad.
Keogh was not named in the initial 29-man squad but now joins fellow strikers Conor Sammon, Robbie Keane, Simon Cox, Shane Long and Jonathan Walters in the Ireland set-up for the upcoming games.
And former Ireland midfielder Houghton believes that Trapattoni should have called up players like Doyle who are ‘tried, trusted’ and have ‘delivered’ in an Ireland shirt.
Speaking on RTÉ Television’s Premier Soccer Saturday show, Houghton said: “I'm quite shocked to be honest. If you think back to recent games, he (Doyle) has been an influence when called upon.
“He has knowledge, understanding and experience. It’s about players who are tried, trusted and delivered and Kevin Doyle is one of those.
“I thought he would have been in the squad. He's got more experience, better understanding of what's required from him (than Conor Sammon).
“Conor is just starting his career at international level. I think I would rather have someone who's been there before, who's played in big games, knows what it takes and knows how to get results.”
"It’s about players who are tried, trusted and delivered and Kevin Doyle is one of those." - Houghton
Doyle scored the winner for Wolves on Saturday in their relegation dogfight with fellow strugglers Bristol City, while Keogh was an unused substitute for Millwall in their south London derby victory over Charlton.
Sammon and Cox played for Derby and Nottingham Forest respectively but failed to get on the scoresheet, while Shane Long only played the final fifteen minutes for WBA in their 0-0 draw with Stoke City.
Walters played the entire game for Stoke in that draw with the Baggies, while Robbie Keane’s LA Galaxy are in action tonight.
Fellow Premier Soccer Saturday analyst Ronnie Whelan was also surprised that Trapattoni failed to call on Doyle for the vital World Cup qualifiers.
Former Ireland international Whelan said: "You've got a lad who has represented his country very well and must have been high up in the estimation of the manager. (Yet) somewhere along the line he has changed his mind.
"Doyle doesn’t fit into his way of thinking anymore. You look at some of the players in the squad. Conor Sammon stays in, Kevin Doyle goes out. That’s a huge surprise for me but I’m not surprised that Trapattoni has done this type of thing. We are getting used to him doing fairly funny things."
And Whelan believes that Keogh’s inclusion is down to the fact that the manager likes the Millwall man’s versatility as he can fill a role in midfield as well as in attack.
Whelan added: "Keogh can play in midfield, he can play upfront, so that would probably get him the nod. (However) Kevin Doyle has played on the wing for the manager before. You've got a midfielder Jeff Hendrick from Derby coming into the squad. There was room to leave a midfielder out and include Kevin Doyle in the squad."