DUBLIN (AFP) - Republic of Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni kept the door open for the selection of Stephen Ireland and Andy Reid after a listless draw against Montenegro brought an end to their World Cup qualifying campaign.
With a play-off place already assured, the charismatic Italian had little to say about a game in which his team fashioned few chances against a Montenegro team deprived of its two best players.
Instead, he looked forward to next month's play-offs insisting he held no grudges against Reid who he has rarely selected and Ireland who refuses to make himself available.
"Never say never whether it is Andy Reid or Stephen Ireland. I really don't have anything against these players. I could meet them tomorrow and they may come back tomorrow," said Trapattoni.
However, he hinted at his views on both players.
While not naming Ireland, he said it was "strange" that a player would not want to play for his national team. And he appeared to refer to Reid's reputation for poor fitness levels when stressing that he expected players to run hard for 90 minutes.
Speaking briefly about the game, Trapattoni said that despite the weaker second-half performance his team were the only one who deserved victory.
"I thought we deserved to score a goal because in the first 45 minutes we dominated. Over the 90 minutes we were the better team," he said.
But his focus was clearly on the play-offs next month.
He expressed his concern about the seeding arrangements which means Ireland are likely to be drawn against one of Europe's top teams next Monday.
"We will speak about why this draw is like this in Zurich. We deserve respect like the other important, great countries. We should all be the same but we are Ireland, a small nation."
His team could be drawn against France, Portugal, Greece or Russia; and while expressing concern about playing in Moscow in winter, he said his team would not fear any opponent.
He again insisted his team was still in development and that their mentality would be the crucial factor over the two legs.
"We are really aware of what we have to build with this team and what we did build with new players and young players. We must believe in our mentality, our performance, our scheme.
"It is really important that this team has believed and have listened to my words. When I came we were a team that disappointed. But we built a new team with new players and young players.
"With super players it is not enough. They can create but against the team with the best mentality it is the team with the best mentality that is the winner. The show is not important it is the result that matters.
"At the moment we have not achieved first position but we are still in the running. I think the psychology of our situation is that the glass is full not half empty.
"When Ireland was a winning team in the past, they had a strong mentality and had players that would cut you in half. Players like Roy Keane, they were strong physically but also in character. And we need to build this in our team."
An injury to Martin Rowlands cast a shadow across the game after he caught his foot in the Croke Park turf and was stretchered off.
"Martin has a cruciate knee injury - it is only the first examination but it looks serious. It is a shame he has only come back from a long injury and he was good enough to put in the team," Trapattoni said.
|S. St. Ledger|
|Coach: G. Trapattoni|
|Ba left out of Senegal AFCON squad|
|Redknapp frustrated by penalty call|
|Wenger sees Giroud wrongs|
|Premier League schedule a ´disgrace´, says Poyet|
|Championship Review: Bournemouth stay top, Heskey scores on Bolton debut|
|Hughes lauds Bojan performance|
|Koeman: Saints marching on|
|Pardew rues referee error|
|Arsenal 2 QPR 1: Sublime Alexis secures the spoils|
|Martinez questions Walters decision|
|Poyet laments Sunderland mistakes|
|League One Review: Swindon cruise to win over Walsall|
|Irvine aware of need for improvement|
|United still doing ´very bad things´ - Van Gaal|
|Lambert proud of players despite Swansea defeat|
|Warnock bemoans Palace defence|
|Bruce hails Hull´s spirit|
|Pochettino relieved to come away with victory|
|Dyche: We had our pocket pinched|
|Monk hails Fabianski performance|
|Pearson demands greater concentration from Leicester|
|Kompany set for City return|
|Rodgers hails character after battling win|
|League Two Review: Ainsworth frustrated by Luton, Shrewsbury go top|
|Everton 0 Stoke City 1: Lacklustre Everton slip to defeat|
|Sunderland 1 Hull City 3: Triumphant return for Bruce|
|Burnley 0 Liverpool 1: Sterling wins it at Turf Moor|
|Leicester City 1 Tottenham 2: Eriksen piles misery on Pearson´s men|
|Manchester United 3 Newcastle United 1: Rooney extends hosts´ streak|
|West Brom 1 Manchester City 3: Three and easy for in-form champions|
|Swansea City 1 Aston Villa 0: Hosts break Boxing Day duck|
|Crystal Palace 1 Southampton 3: Mane marks return with star performance|
|Allardyce upbeat despite defeat|
|Van Dijk happy at Celtic - Deila|
|Table-topping Chelsea delight Mourinho|
|Chelsea 2 West Ham 0: Mourinho´s men ease to victory|
|Suarez enjoying Messi, Neymar link-up|
|A-League Review: Garcia rescues point for Perth, Adelaide up to second|
|Poyet calls for mid-season break|
|Van Gaal rules out Januzaj move|
|Rodgers: Balotelli may have to get used to bench|
|Lallana: I was trying too hard|
|Walker juggles music, football careers in Sweden|
|Song to face ´brother from another mother´ Fabregas|
|Adriano announces Le Havre deal|
|Pardew braced for Old Trafford test|
|Lescott unfazed by City reunion|
|Tskhadadze appointed Georgia coach|
|United to finish top three - Ferdinand|
|Allardyce: Stamford Bridge stalemate saved my job|
|Southampton need three January signings, says Watson|
|Liverpool can make Champions League, says fanzine editor|
|Walsh: Hull clash crucial for Leicester|
|Toure, Aubameyang and Enyeama make shortlist for African gong|
|Docherty backs Chelsea to win two-horse race|
|Liverpool could benefit from Hyypia influence - Scales|
|Saudi Arabia name Asian Cup squad|
|Forty-year-old Cahill no problem for Postecoglou|