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Millwall 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2 – match report – Chris Maguire scores in stoppage time

Millwall 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2: Lions tamed at the last as Maguire eases Owls relegation fears

PUBLISHED:

21:08 GMT, 9 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:08 GMT, 9 April 2013

Chris Maguire grabbed a last-gasp winner to fire Sheffield Wednesday away from the drop zone and send Millwall to Wembley on the back of a defeat.

The Lions, who face Wigan in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday, got off to the perfect start when Jimmy Abdou scored after just 63 seconds.

But Wednesday equalised through Miguel Llera's free-kick before the interval, and substitute Maguire struck in stoppage time as the Owls moved six points clear of the bottom three.

Twit-too: Chris Maguire struck late on to seal all three points for Sheffield Wednesday at Millwall

Twit-too: Chris Maguire struck late on to seal all three points for Sheffield Wednesday at Millwall

Twit-too: Chris Maguire struck late on to seal all three points for Sheffield Wednesday at Millwall

MATCH FACTS

MILWALL: Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Beevers, Lowry, Chris Taylor, Abdou, St. Ledger, Saville, Easter, Hulse. Subs: Maik Taylor, Batt, Henry, Woolford, Keogh, Jack Smith, Adam Smith.

SHEFF WED: Kirkland, Buxton, Gardner, Llera, Pugh, Lee, Olofinjana, Prutton, Helan, Lita, Howard. Subs: Bywater, Taylor, Semedo, Maguire, Jermaine Johnson, Mattock, McCabe.

Referee: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands)

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It brought an end to Millwall's three-game unbeaten run and means they are not out of the woods themselves yet.

But for the time being they can focus on Wigan and potentially 90 minutes from a place in Europe.

They are unlikely to find the Latics as charitable as Wednesday, who conceded the opener with the first attack of the match.

Chris Taylor was allowed to cut in
from the left wing, charge into the penalty area unchallenged and
deliver a low cross for the unmarked Abdou to bundle home at the far
post.

It was recalled midfielder Abdou's
first home goal for the Lions, five years since he joined, and the
perfect way to stake his claim for a Wembley appearance.

Millwall were certainly not playing like a team with their minds elsewhere, though, and continued to bombard Wednesday's goal.

Rob Hulse burst into the area but could not get round Owls keeper Chris Kirkland, and Shane Lowry fired narrowly wide.

Bright start: The hosts took the lead after just 63 seconds through Jimmy Abdou

Bright start: The hosts took the lead after just 63 seconds through Jimmy Abdou

Hat trick: Miguel Llera got the Owls back on track before half-time with a cute free-kick

Hat trick: Miguel Llera got the Owls back on track before half-time with a cute free-kick

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Wednesday had barely threatened in the
opening half hour, apart from a close-range effort from Steve Howard
which was well saved by David Forde.

But five minutes before half-time they drew level through Llera, who curled a 25-yard free-kick around the wall.

Forde appeared to have the shot covered, but the ball bounced in front of him, over his hands and into the net.

Taylor could have put Millwall back
into the lead on the stroke of half-time but his backheel from Lowry's
cross flew straight at Kirkland.

The Lions had a let-off moments after
the interval when a half-cleared corner fell to David Prutton on the
edge of the area and his shot was cleared off the line by Lowry.

Both sides had chances late on with
Jermaine Easter firing wide and Kirkland denying Taylor and Sean St
Ledger with fine saves, while referee Phillip Gibbs waved away some
strong Millwall penalty appeals after Seyi Olofinjana appeared to
handle.

Wednesday sub Jermaine Johnson should have put the visitors ahead 10 minutes from time but fizzed his shot narrowly wide.

However, the winner came deep into
four minutes of stoppage time when Maguire hooked in Danny Pugh's corner
to seal a valuable three points.

I should have taken Seamus Coleman to Euro 2012 finals, admits Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni

I should have taken Coleman to Euro 2012 finals, admits Ireland boss Trapattoni

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UPDATED:

18:42 GMT, 15 November 2012

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni admits he was wrong to leave Everton's Seamus Coleman out of his squad for last summer's European Championships finals.

The former Sligo Rovers defender was
omitted from Ireland's disastrous Euro 2012 campaign and Trapattoni
turned instead to Hull City's Paul McShane as potential cover for
Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger and John O'Shea.

Impressive: Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman, left,

Impressive: Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman (left)

But after an outstanding start to Ireland's latest World Cup campaign, and his man of the match performance against Greece in Dublin on Wednesday night, Trapattoni says Everton full-back Coleman has earned the right to be among the starters for the resumption of qualifiers next year.

And the Ireland manager says he may have been wrong to leave the 24-year-old Donegal-born utility man who won his ninth cap against the Greeks this week.

Trapattoni said: 'We deserved to qualify for the Euros and the team was very well in every position. I had a heavy job with Paul McShane and had to disappoint Kevin Foley.

'Coleman was not ready for this group but we followed him and he has played in forward positions for his club and also as a defender.

Mistake: Giovanni Trapattoni

Mistake: Giovanni Trapattoni

'Now he is good for us and we have trust
in him. He has confirmed his personality, quality, strength and
attitude and plays offensive football without fear and that was
important. He plays every game with his club and in every game he
grows.'

Meanwhile, Trapattoni is hoping to have Richard Dunne back in the squad for the crucial double header against Sweden and Austria in March.

The Aston Villa defender, who has not played this season due to a groin injury picked up with Ireland, is back in training, although he has been told he can leave Villa Park by manager Paul Lambert.

Trapattoni said: 'I am frequently in touch with him and his injury is not easy. He said he will start training in 15 days, and I hope we have two months. He has to play for his club and if he is ready, sure he will play.

'For us it's important he comes back. But also Ciaran Clark's performance was very positive against Greece and with Darren O'Dea and Sean St Ledger, we have good options at centre back.'

Republic of Ireland injury crisis is no excuse against Germany – Giovanni Trapattoni

Injury crisis will not be an excuse if Ireland lose to Germany, insists Trapattoni

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 8 October 2012

The Republic of Ireland have become embroiled in an injury crisis ahead of one of their toughest World Cup 2014 qualifiers against Germany.

But manager Giovanni Trapattoni is refusing to use the worst injury ravages of his reign as an excuse before the Germans have even landed in Dublin ahead of Friday's showdown at the Aviva Stadium.

The Ireland boss has finally turned to Aston Villa regular Ciaran Clark, who was left out of last month’s wins over Kazakhstan and Oman, however, he will not be attempting to call up recently retired veteran Damien Duff in an emergency and continues to overlook Norwich City’s Wes Hoolahan.

Fighting fit: Striker Shane Long (left) in training with the Republic of Ireland squad at Gannon Park on Monday

Fighting fit: Striker Shane Long (left) in training with the Republic of Ireland squad at Gannon Park on Monday

Following the weekend withdrawal of Wolves striker Kevin Doyle, Trapattoni’s worst fears were realised when seasoned campaigners Sean St Ledger and Glenn Whelan were both ruled out of this week’s double header against Germany and Faroe Islands with hamstring injuries.

Sunderland winger James McClean has also stayed in Wearside for treatment to a hip flexor problem and the former Derry City man is certain to miss both games.

The latest setbacks were the worst possible start to less than a week of preparations for the Italian coach and his squad who held their first training session in Malahide on Monday.

Stoke City striker Jon Walters missed morning training as a precaution while captain Robbie Keane and Russia-based midfielder Aiden McGeady are due in the team hotel today.

After training, Trapattoni admitted the injury problems will affect the squad’s preparations for the second qualifying match in their World Cup group. It offers the under-fire Ireland boss ready-made excuses for any defeat to the group favourites, and any embarrassment they may suffer in the Faroes next week.

But Trapattoni said: 'We don’t need to look for excuses.

'I wish to remember the final of the Champions League last season when the favourites, 100 per cent, were Bayern Munich. Bayern had 17 corners Bayern, Chelsea had three and Chelsea won the game and the Champions League. That is football.

Blow: Sunderland winger James McClean (centre) is certain to miss Ireland's double header

Blow: Sunderland winger James McClean (centre) is certain to miss Ireland's double header

'We need 11 players to give 100 per cent. Every one of us must give 100 per cent or I will need to change the team. I have spoken to them about their enthusiasm and giving 100 per cent commitment when we call them.

'We saw last month in Kazakhstan with Kevin Doyle what can happen when a player comes off the bench and scores. Intelligent players can wait for their moment whether they are on the bench, or not.

'I don’t think about the injured players now. All the injuries are being monitored by their club doctors and also by our doctor. Glenn wanted to be here, he’s very respectful of the Irish jersey, but he’s gone now for both games.

'We just need all the players available before we can pick a team. We have 24 players now and we have no other surprises.'

One surprise which was ruled out from the team camp was the possibility of Trapattoni’s assistant Marco Tardelli pursuing centurion Duff, who stunned the Italian contingent with his decision to retire after the Euro 2012 debacle.

Last month Tardelli said he had talked constantly with the Fulham winger, who has made a bright start to the new season, and believed he could be persuaded to return to the fold. But Duff will not be approached, despite the sparse squad available for this week.

Although stubborn Trapattoni is also refusing to look towards new blood like Hoolahan, who has also played regularly in the Premier League with strugglers Norwich City, he is determined to move on from the European Championship finals campaign this month.

He added: 'I believe the new campaign and the wins over Kazakhstan and Oman have calmed the disappointment of the Euros.

'I never wish to hear again about disappointment, disappointment, disappointment. It is finished now and we don’t need excuses.'

Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark called up to Ireland squad

Trap calls on Villa defender Clark as Ireland's injury woes mount

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UPDATED:

14:13 GMT, 8 October 2012

Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark has been called into the Republic of Ireland squad with manager Giovanni Trapattoni facing an injury crisis.

Clark was expected to arrive at the Republic's Portmarnock base on Monday evening as the Italian faced up to the loss of central defender Sean St Ledger and midfielder Glenn Whelan, who were both due to have scans.

The pair suffered hamstring injuries while playing for Leicester and Stoke respectively over the weekend and are rated as extremely doubtful to be fit for the World Cup qualifiers against Germany and the Faroe Islands.

Your country needs you: Clark has been called up by Ireland boss Trapattoni

Your country needs you: Clark has been called up by Ireland boss Trapattoni

In addition, Sunderland winger James McClean has been ruled out of the clash with the Germans at the Aviva Stadium on Friday evening after a scan on Wearside revealed the extent of the hip injury he suffered during his club's 3-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at Manchester City on Sunday.

A spokesman for the Football Association of Ireland said: 'The results of James McClean's scan this morning in Sunderland showed a grade one hip flexor strain which will certainly rule him out for the Germany match and may exclude him for the Faroe Islands.

'McClean will remain at his club to receive treatment.'

Trapattoni, who was already without experienced defender Richard Dunne, lost striker Kevin Doyle on Friday after he picked up a thigh problem training with Wolves at the start of a costly few days for Ireland.

Huddersfield 0 Leicester 2

Huddersfield 0 Leicester 2: Knockaert show, but Redknapp lined up to replace Pearson

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UPDATED:

22:24 GMT, 2 October 2012

Nigel Pearson is bracing himself for the sack, despite Leicester’s early-season form taking them into the thick of the npower Championship promotion race.

A spectacular brace from midfielder Anthony Knockaert lifted the visitors to second in the table but may not be enough to keep Pearson in a job.

The Leicester manager fears his departure is imminent after sensing that owner Vichai Raksriaksorn has lost confidence in his ability to secure promotion to the Barclays Premier League.

Knockaert blow: The French star scored a double for Leicester

Knockaert blow: The French star scored a double for Leicester

Match facts

Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Peter Clarke, Gerrard, Dixon (Woods 63), Norwood (Arfield 63), Clayton (Lee 63), Southern, Ward, Novak, Scannell.

Subs Not Used: Bennett, Wallace, Robinson, Spencer.

Booked: Dixon.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Moore, Morgan, St. Ledger, Konchesky, Knockaert (Marshall 90), King, Drinkwater, Dyer (Schlupp 77), Nugent, Vardy (Waghorn 80).

Subs Not Used: Logan, Whitbread, James, Futacs.

Booked: Knockaert.

Goals: Knockaert 30, 60.

Attendance: 13,821

Referee: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands).

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While Pearson braces himself for the axe, after barely 11 months in charge, it emerged that Alan Shearer and Iain Dowie have joined former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp on the list of potential replacements.

Redknapp appears to be favourite and Sportsmail understands contact has been made with him. But former England striker Shearer and ex-Charlton manager Dowie have also been sounded out, in case Redknapp decides against moving north.

A frustrated Pearson said: ‘I don’t know who is being mischievous in terms of these stories, but it is a bit of an irritant.’ Then reflecting on his side’s rise to within one point of top place, he said: ‘It gives us a platform to kick on from, and just shows what a good group of players we’ve got.’

Travelling fans chanted his name at Huddersfield.

It is unlikely to make any difference to Raksriaksorn, but Pearson could not have asked for much more from his players in what could prove his last game in charge than a dominant performance capped by a spectacular 30th-minute breakthrough.

Alex Smithies was handily placed to block a firmly struck effort from Jamie Vardy, in the 18th minute, but could do little about a wind-assisted long-range shot from Knockaert on the half-hour.

The France Under 21 midfielder took aim from 35 yards and unleashed a swerving, dipping left-foot drive that flew into the roof of the net.

If that was eye-catching, it was matched by his second goal, on the hour. Paul Konchesky looked to have cut the ball too far back from the left, but Knockaert reacted with a full-length dive that enabled him to backheel the waist-high ball past a startled Smithies.

David Nugent almost made it three, with a point blank effort Smithies somehow blocked. And Pearson defiantly declared: ‘There has been some rubbish said and written about our season so far but what goes on within the club stays there.’

Dejected Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson said: ‘We were beaten by the better side. They have to be one of the favourites for promotion.’

Middlesbrough 1 Leicester 2: Dyer at the death ends Boro"s unbeaten record

Middlesbrough 1 Leicester 2: Dyer at the death ends Boro's unbeaten record

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UPDATED:

17:31 GMT, 29 September 2012

Substitute Lloyd Dyer's last-gasp goal
earned Leicester a deserved win and ended Middlesbrough's 100% home
record in the process.

Nicky Bailey opened the scoring for
Middlesbrough with a stunning 30-yard drive early in the second half but
it was all Leicester after that, with Jamie Vardy slotting in the
equaliser and Dyer's deflected effort winning it at the death.

It was the Foxes' fourth victory in five matches but the first points they have taken on their travels after three defeats.

Safe hands: Middlesborough keeper Jason Steele

Safe hands: Middlesborough keeper Jason Steele

Match facts

Middlesbrough: Steele, Friend, Woodgate (Hines 37), Bikey, Hoyte,
McEachran, Bailey, Thomson (Ledesma 69),Leadbitter,Jutkiewicz,
Zemmama (Luke Williams 63).
Subs Not Used: Leutwiler, Arca, Smallwood, Haroun.

Booked: Bikey.

Goals: Bailey 50.

Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet (Moore 28), Konchesky, St. Ledger,
Morgan, Knockaert, Drinkwater, James (King 57),Marshall (Dyer 62),Vardy, Nugent. Subs Not Used: Logan, Whitbread, Waghorn, Futacs.

Goals: Vardy 62, Dyer 89.

Att: 15,679

Ref: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire)

Bailey and Merouane Zemmama were the only survivors from Boro's midweek Capital One Cup victory at Preston, while the Foxes named an unchanged line-up following their impressive 3-1 Championship win against Hull last Sunday.

The home side had the first chance of the game when Justin Hoyte cut in from the right and fired in an effort which brought a decent stop from Kasper Schmeichel. At the other end, David Nugent, who scored a hat-trick against the Tigers, saw a shot deflected just over the crossbar by Andre Bikey.

Middlesbrough's on-loan midfielder Josh McEachran fizzed a right-footed drive wide, before Leicester lost Ritchie De Laet to injury, with highly-rated youngster Liam Moore coming on.

Vardy should have done better with a shot from just inside the area which was straight at Boro goalkeeper Jason Steele as the game continued to flow.

Jonathan Woodgate, whose career has been dogged by injuries, was forced off in the 37th minute with what looked to be a recurrence of a niggling hamstring problem.

His absence was noticeable from a Leicester set-piece shortly afterwards as Nugent rose highest to head over the crossbar.

High jump: Jonathan Woodgate climbs above the Ipswich defence

High jump: Jonathan Woodgate climbs above the Ipswich defence

Tony Mowbray's men took the lead early in the second half. There looked to be nothing on when Bailey picked the ball up 30 yards from goal, but the midfielder let fly with a stunning shot into the top corner.

Middlesbrough came agonisingly close to doubling their advantage moments later, hitting City on the break, only for Lukas Jutkiewicz to slam a shot against the crossbar. They were made to pay as Leicester equalised from their next noteworthy attack.

Nugent's shot deflected into the path of Vardy and he steered the ball past Steele for his fourth goal of the season.

Leicester spurned two gilt-edged chances to take the lead as Dyer cleared the bar from six yards from fellow substitute Andy King's lay-off.

King then found himself with space in the area but his close-range shot was palmed away by Steele.

The visitors were well on top as Anthony Knockaert's corner picked out former Middlesbrough defender Sean St Ledger but his powerful goalbound header was expertly tipped away by the keeper.

Nugent headed wide, before Leicester grabbed the winner their second-half pressure had deserved.

Anthony Knockaert passed the ball wide to Dyer and his shot took a wicked deflection and looped over Steele.

Knockaert should have sealed victory late on when he was sent clear one-on-one with Steele. He took it around him but sub Hines was on hand to hack the ball to safety.

James McClean looks a sorry state as Irish winger has nowhere to hide after Twitter outburst

McClean looks a sorry state as Ireland winger has nowhere to hide after Twitter outburst

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

21:23 GMT, 9 September 2012

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UPDATED:

21:23 GMT, 9 September 2012

He may have won his Ireland reprieve
with a humiliating apology on Saturday afternoon but James McClean
looked like a man who wanted to be a million miles away from Kingston on
Sunday morning.

The neat and tiny Kingsmeadow ground
on the outskirts of London – The Cherry Red Records Stadium to give it
its full title – plays host every week to modest crowds watching League
Two and non-league matches.

The only notable spectators in the
stands were keeper Keiren Westwood and defender Sean St Ledger, who are
both likely to be left to their own devices on Tuesday as well, sitting
out the friendly at Craven Cottage.

Ireland's James McClean

Feelign the heat: Ireland's James McClean

Other than them, a small throng of Irish journalists, a few bemused AFC Wimbledon officials and their ground staff, plus assorted FAI bodies, had assembled to observe a training session with the legendary Giovanni Trapattoni and his Ireland team.

All our eyes were on McClean. And through the searing south-west London heat, the poor lad toiled for every painful second. He looked like a man, in fact a boy, who wanted the ground to swallow him up and put an end to his very obvious misery.

No doubt still living through the stupidity of pressing the send button on his phone from the team bus on Friday night, McClean looked like a footballer with the weight of the world on his shoulders. And this was a Sunday morning run-out in Kingston.

The moment the practice match bibs were handed out, McClean knew he was in trouble.

Robbie Brady, anxious, excited and eager to impress, was handed one of the orange garments. McClean was overlooked by the coaches, left to ponder how much of a twit he has been in the reserve team, and then plonked in the centre of midfield, presumably as additional punishment. Every touch, every shot, every moment went awry. And he struggled to hide his contempt and disappointment.

Not amused: Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni

Not amused: Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni

This time he didn't need Twitter to make a twit of himself. The ball was doing it for him.

It was almost painful to watch, and as an observer who has seen every one of McClean's home matches since he made his sensational arrival at the Stadium of Light under Martin O'Neill in nine months, it was an alien performance and unlike anything the winger seems capable of.

The boy from Derry had not expected his Ireland career to shape up this way when he made the difficult and controversial choice of picking this particular colour of green for his international future.

Although he has no right to expect a starting place in the Irish team yet, and although he is still naive, raw and inexperienced, he surely deserves better treatment – and longer than 17 competitive minutes – for being hauled across to Italy, Hungary, Poland and now Kazakhstan.

As Sportsmail's columnist Kevin Kilbane said last week, McClean is Ireland's in-form Premier League player and he should be in the team from the start.

Sadly Trapattoni takes the opposite view and he appeared to have little sympathy with the player's well-publicised remarks and his obvious agony. There was no arm round McClean's shoulder, in fact there was little if any eye contact.

If Trapattoni is trying to ruin another young Irish footballer, who just happens by coincidence to play for Sunderland, and run him out of the squad, he is going the right way about doing it.

In favour: Robbie Brady (left)

In favour: Robbie Brady (left)

By contrast, Brady was having the time of his life.

Maybe it was the bib, maybe it was the call-up and the chance to show his talents to the senior boys. Whatever it was, Brady was the one winger with a smile on his face as he came off the lush Kingsmeadow turf. Trapattoni even had a private word with him, very publically in front of the main stand.

'It was my first few hours and I really enjoyed it,' Brady said. 'They are a good group of lads and I have been welcomed from the first moment I came in.

'I know John O'Shea from United and Paul McShane when I was at Hull, so I know quite a few of the lads from being around the football scene so it was not as if I was coming in and not knowing anybody. They made me fit in so it was great.

'The manager had a quick word and said that he had me on the radar for a while so I'm glad to hear that and that I am in.

'I've been working hard all year, it's been a good season for the 21s and I got my best ever run with Hull and I'm just delighted to have been called up to the squad. And, hopefully, come Tuesday if I get a chance I'll be able to show what I'm about.

'But I just don't want to come in, meet everybody, say 'hello' and go back out. Hopefully I have come in to stay.'

And while he may not have played a meaningful minute in a Manchester United shirt, and failed to hold down a regular starting place at Hull City last season, the Baldoyle Boy, once of St Kevins, has been promoted in to Tuesday's starting line-up ahead of McClean.

To add insult to McClean's hurt, he even talked up Brady to an extent even Sir Alex wouldn't recognise him.

'He's a type of player we are missing,' said Trapattoni. 'He has vision, can pass and can shoot, like James McCarthy but he has other midfield work like Meyler. Brady sees the pass immediately, he has the pitch in front of him, he can pass and shoot, he is intelligent and clever.'

Robbie was not the only Brady on Trapattoni's mind.

At the end of his pitchside press briefing, the Italian was informed of Liam Brady's surprise criticism of his old manager's style of play which was adopted in Poland and failed. The depressing long ball tactic was restored in Astana and even Brady found it painful to watch.

It was at this moment – to the amusement of the Wimbledon staff at least – that Trapattoni became typically animated, voluble, yet no entirely coherent. He even grabbed a pen and pad and scribbled diagrams and notes. His minders wanted him out of there, but Trapattoni wanted to talk. Or shout. And it was still clear as mud.

But he said: 'Liam Brady He was never a manager

'I lie awake in the night and I think about a new team, how we play in defence, how we develop the game.

'In the first 50 minutes, we had three chances, how many after one hour You could pass the ball for 80 minutes and still lose one or two nil.

'We had to save energy. So then we play the long ball and the second ball. We're not Manchester United – tip tip tap tap – we needed our strength.'

Brian Clough once said of players showing dissent. 'Well, we talk about it for 20 minutes and then decide I was right.'

As Liam Brady will tell Robbie Brady and James McClean, it is a philosophy Giovanni Trapattoni knows very well, and they will have to accept that. Or stay at home.

Liam Moore wanted by Manchester United

One Moore! Fergie lines up late swoop for young Leicester defender

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UPDATED:

07:39 GMT, 27 August 2012

Starlet: Liam Moore

Starlet: Liam Moore

Manchester United are looking to bring in 19-year-old Leicester defender Liam Moore before the close of the transfer window on Friday.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson sent his chief scout Jim Lawlor to watch the centre-back play in the Foxes' 2-1 defeat at Ewood Park on Saturday – and he was impressed.

The England youth international has also been watched by Tottenham, Everton and Sunderland scouts, but Fergie is ready to beat off competition with a bid this week, according to the Daily Mirror.

Moore made his Leicester debut at right-back against Crystal Palace in January after returning from a successful loan spell at Bradford.

But the youngster has been thrust into action in the centre of Nigel Pearson's defence at the start of this campaign after injuries to Sean St Ledger and Zak Whitbread, and he has excelled.

With the injury-prone Rio Ferdinand nearing the end of his career, Ferguson has been eyeing long-term defensive reinforcements for a while, but he has decided to act now with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling also out injured.

Euro 2012 Robbie Keane calls for a change in attitude after seeing Ireland crash out

Keane calls for a change in attitude after seeing Ireland crash out of Euro 2012

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UPDATED:

22:23 GMT, 14 June 2012

Former Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane has insisted his nation needed to change their mentality if they wanted more success on the international stage.

After seeing his side knocked out of Euro 2012 after just two games, Keane said: 'I think the players and supporters have to change their mentality.

Forthright: Roy Keane (right) did not hold back

Forthright: Roy Keane (right) did not hold back

Euro 2012 email button

'It's just nonsense to say how
great the supporters are. The supporters want to see the players do a
lot better and not give daft goals away like that.

'Let's
change that attitude towards Irish supporters. Let's not kid ourselves,
they want to see their team winning, Let's not just go along for the
sing-song now and again.'

Keane
also criticised the Irish performance, insisting: 'It was a wake-up
call for these players. The goals they gave away tonight at any level
were absolutely shocking.'

Midfielder Keith Andrews admitted 'we shot ourselves in the foot' after their hopes of Euro 2012 progress ended with a 4-0 thrashing by Spain in Gdansk.

Outclassed: Keith Andrews, Sean St Ledger and Richard Dunne were chasing shadows

Outclassed: Keith Andrews, Sean St Ledger and Richard Dunne were chasing shadows

Giovanni Trapattoni's men were once
again guilty of conceding early goals at the start of each half, with
Fernando Torres opening the scoring after just four minutes to give the
reigning champions a perfect start.

Andrews told ITV: 'We tried to say before the game let's learn our lessons but we shot ourselves in the foot again.

'They were silly goals and we didn't learn, but they're such a top side any lapse in concentration is going to hurt you.

'For the majority of the game we were chasing shadows and we couldn't get near them. They are a fantastic side.'

Euro 2012 results Ireland 0 Spain 4 Fernando Torres and La Furia Roja run amok to send Trapattoni"s men home

Ireland 0 Spain 4: Torres and La Furia Roja run amok to send Trap's men packing

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UPDATED:

20:51 GMT, 14 June 2012

Fernando Torres dumped the Republic of Ireland out of Euro 2012 as defending champions Spain eased into top gear.

The 28-year-old striker, left out of the starting line-up for the Group C opener against Italy, returned with a vengeance to spearhead an impressive display by the Spaniards.

Torres fired them ahead after just four minutes and then, after David Silva had mesmerised the Irish defence to make it 2-0 four minutes after the restart, helped himself to a second to complete a good night's work.

It proved a chastening experience for the Republic, who conceded a fourth late on when substitute Cesc Fabregas collected his second goal of the tournament, as their worst fears were realised.

On the charge: Fernando Torres outpaces Richard Dunne before slotting past Shay Given to make it 3-0

On the charge: Fernando Torres outpaces Richard Dunne before slotting past Shay Given to make it 3-0

MATCH FACTS

Spain: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso (Javi Martinez 65), Silva, Torres (Fabregas 74), Iniesta (Santi Cazorla 79). Subs not used: Valdes, Albiol, Juanfran, Pedro, Negredo, Mata, Llorente, Jesus Navas, Reina.

Booked: Alonso, Javi Martinez.

Scorers: Torres 4, 70, Silva 49, Fabregas 83.

Rep of Ireland: Given, O'Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, Duff (McClean 76), Andrews, Whelan (Green 80), McGeady, Cox (Walters 46), Keane. Subs not used: Westwood, Doyle, Kelly, McShane, Gibson, Hunt, O'Dea, Long, Forde.

Booked: Keane, Whelan, St Ledger.

Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal).

Attendance: 36,572.

Spain will head into Monday night's
showdown with Croatia with top spot in the group at stake, while
Giovanni Trapattoni's men will have only pride to play for when they
face Italy, who need to win to progress, in Poznan.

Ireland had gone four games unbeaten
before they arrived in Poland, but have tasted comprehensive defeat in
both the fixtures they have played in their first trip to major finals
in a decade.

The sound of Europe's The Final
Countdown thundering from the stadium's PA system 15 minutes before
kick-off seemed prophetic at the time, and as Portuguese referee Pedro
Proenca brought an end to the opening 45 minutes, the Republic's hopes
of extending their stay in Poland and Ukraine were hanging by a thread.

They ran out knowing they needed to
avoid defeat to have any chance of reaching the last eight, and that an
unlikely win would give them a real chance with Italy and Croatia having
drawn earlier.

However, just as they had done against
the Croatians in Poznan on Sunday evening, Trapattoni's men found
themselves behind barely before they had broken sweat, and the source of
the damage was entirely predictable.

Power play: Fernando Torres got the ball rolling with a blistering opening goal

Power play: Fernando Torres got the ball rolling with a blistering opening goal

The return of El Nino: Fernando Torres smashes his shot beyond Shay Given

The return of El Nino: Fernando Torres smashes his shot beyond Shay Given

Taking the plaudits: Fernando Torres opened his account at Euro 2012 after four minutes

Taking the plaudits: Fernando Torres opened his account at Euro 2012 after four minutes

Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque had outraged his critics by lining up against the Italians without a recognised striker.

Trapattoni had predicted he would not
do the same tonight and would restore Torres to the starting line-up,
and the Chelsea frontman needed just four minutes to make his mark.

Silva's fleet-footed burst into the
penalty area prompted Richard Dunne to make a desperate and successful
sliding challenge, but the ball dropped nicely for Torres to round
full-back Stephen Ward and smash a right-foot shot from a tight angle
high past goalkeeper Shay Given and into the roof of the net.

It was the last thing Ireland needed,
although it came after Simon Cox, preferred to Kevin Doyle in a 4-5-1
formation, had tested Iker Casillas with a second-minute drive from
distance.

Outnumbered: David Silva runs the Ireland defence a merry dance

Outnumbered: David Silva runs the Ireland defence a merry dance

No stopping him: David Silva fires his shot past Stephen Ward, Sean St Ledger and Richard Dunne

No stopping him: David Silva fires his shot past Stephen Ward, Sean St Ledger and Richard Dunne

They think it's all over: There was no way back for Ireland after David Silva made it 2-0

They think it's all over: There was no way back for Ireland after David Silva made it 2-0

But Irish forays into enemy territory
were to prove a rare occurrence as Spain, not unsurprisingly, dominated
the middle of the field to lay siege to Given's goal.

The Aston Villa keeper was peppered
from distance as Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso and Xavi laid the
foundation for Silva, Andres Iniesta and Torres to go about their
business.

Given, who had already got down well
to claim an effort from Silva, had to beat away a piledriver from
Iniesta and in a flurry as the half-time whistle approached, blocked
full-back Alvaro Arbeloa's skidding attempt with his legs and tipped
another stinging strike from Iniesta over his bar.

/06/14/article-2159492-139D1630000005DC-594_634x366.jpg” width=”634″ height=”366″ alt=”Clinical: Fernando Torres had a field day against the Irish” class=”blkBorder” />

Clinical: Fernando Torres had a field day against the Irish

Whether Trapattoni felt his decision
to use Cox had worked or not, he abandoned the experiment at the break
to send on the more physical Jon Walters.

But the game was effectively over
within four costly minutes as Spain once again flexed their muscles at
the start of the second half.

Given had already repelled another
effort from Arbeloa – he and fellow full-back Jordi Alba were
effectively playing as wingers – when the keeper's attempt to keep out
Iniesta's powerfully-struck shot dropped to the feet of Silva.

The Manchester City midfielder still
had plenty to do, but he tip-toed his way through the wreckage of the
Irish defence before slotting the ball calmly into the bottom corner.

4-0: Cesc Fabregas completes the scoring

4-0: Cesc Fabregas completes the scoring

Given produced a stunning one-handed
save to deny Xavi with 55 minutes gone, but would have been picking the
ball out of his net once again seven minutes later had Busquets managed
to bend his shot only marginally more.

But further damage was inflicted with
20 minutes remaining when Torres once again ran clear of a static
defence to fire expertly past Given and finally kill off hopes of a
fightback.

Torres departed to rapturous applause
from his compatriots with 18 minutes remaining as Fabregas took his
place with Spain already looking towards Monday night.

There was an equally warm welcome for
James McClean when he was handed a second cap and a first competitive
appearance as 76th-minute substitute, but Ireland's woes increased seven
minutes from time when Fabregas blasted home a fourth as Trapattoni's
men slept at a corner.

Down and out: Stephen Ward, Shay Given and Richard Dunne reflect on defeat

Down and out: Stephen Ward, Shay Given and Richard Dunne reflect on defeat