Ireland news

Best must work for his chance

October 4, 2011

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has told Newcastle striker Leon Best he needs to work harder on the pitch if he is to win a return to the international stage.

Best, 25, has been in good form for Newcastle this season, scoring three times and forming a new partnership with Demba Ba which has helped the club to a nine-game unbeaten start to the campaign and taken them to fourth place in the Premier League.

However, despite his expressed intention to force his way back into Trapattoni's plans, Best's name was conspicuous by its absence when the Italian named his squad for the concluding Euro 2012 qualifiers against Andorra and Armenia.

Trapattoni insisted he has not forgotten the former Coventry man, but wants to see more from him than just his potency in attack before he drafts him back into his plans.

Asked why he had ignored Best, he said: "Because we have three or four other strikers with other qualities. Leon knows why. I don't forget him, but he knows why. I need another attitude.

"The whole team must work, the whole team must work. That is important. Many players here understood that. On the pitch, there is only one ball. To win in football, you need 11 players running for 90 or 94 minutes with that winning mentality, not waiting for the ball.

"We need this mentality. With our mentality, all is possible. We can't afford to have players staying there waiting for the ball.''

Trapattoni's comments may surprise Newcastle boss Alan Pardew, who has been delighted with Best's contribution to date this season.

However, the 72-year-old has made a point of discarding players who do not subscribe to his footballing theories, and it appears that the striker has some work to do to persuade him that he is worthy of a return to the international fold.

In the meantime, the Republic will head for the tiny Pyrenean principality to face minnows Andorra on Friday knowing there is no room for slip-ups at the 1,800-capacity Estadi Comunal.

Midfielder Stephen Hunt said: "You are going to get all the cliches over the next three or four days, but the most important thing is we stay focused and win the game.

"We might have to be patient - it might be the 65th, 70th minute when we score a second goal to kill the game off or whatever. But as long as we win the game, that's the most important thing.

"The result is the most important thing. If everyone performs, then the result also follows. It might not be so pretty on the pitch, by the looks of it, but we will have to play our own game and be effective.''

Meanwhile, Sunderland defender John O'Shea has handed Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni a boost when he was able to train with his team-mates.

The 30-year-old, who reported for duty carrying a knock, played a full part in Tuesday morning's session at Gannon Park, Malahide ahead of the squad's scheduled departure for Andorra on Wednesday.

O'Shea's fitness for the Group B qualifier on Friday night will be key with Richard Dunne suspended, although Trapattoni could yet opt to leave him at right-back and pair Sean St Ledger, who is available after being banned for last month's 0-0 draw in Russia, with Darren O'Dea in the middle.

Keeper Shay Given continued to nurse a minor wrist problem, but the Italian is confident the Aston Villa man will be fit. However, a question mark still remains over striker Jon Walters, whose ankle problem continues to be assessed back at Stoke.