The issue of missing players continued to dominate the Republic of Ireland agenda despite an emphatic win over 10-man Northern Ireland on Tuesday night.
Robbie Keane struck twice to take his international goal tally to 48 as the Republic crushed their neighbours 5-0 in the Carling Nations Cup in Dublin but it was the players missing who commanded most attention.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has got into a row with Wigan over the non-appearance of James McCarthy for the four summer matches and the Italian revealed Stoke pair Marc Wilson and Jonathan Walters also failed to report. Trapattoni said: "We called these players, they didn't answer, they didn't come."
Wigan claim McCarthy has an ankle injury and that the Football Association of Ireland were informed but Trapattoni says there has been no contact and the midfielder has not returned calls.
He added: "We will have to decide why we call them up next time. This is their federation, the FAI. McCarthy, Wilson and Walters didn't come, they didn't bother answering. We have been watching these players over one month, two months. If they are injured that is okay but they must come to us and see our doctor. It is about respect. It shouldn't happen anywhere, not just Ireland."
Wilson had been named in Trapattoni's intended side on Monday but his absence allowed an opportunity for Wolves' Stephen Ward. It was an opportunity the utility man took, slotting in well at left-back and opening the scoring.
Keane pounced on a poor backpass to double the lead and added another from the spot after being fouled by Adam Thompson, who was sent off. Those strikes sandwiched an own goal by Craig Cathcart while another debutant, Simon Cox, added a fifth.
Keane had only expected to play 45 minutes but was disappointed to be withdrawn just after the hour with a hat-trick within his reach. The Tottenham striker said: "It's a friendly game but when you're playing against your rivals there is no such thing, it's always important to get a good win and we did that convincingly.
"I wanted to stay on - I think I need one more to equal the English [goalscoring] record, so I was desperate to stay on, but never mind. Luckily Coxy stayed on because he scored a goal and it was a great debut for him, we're all delighted for him. All in all it's a great win for us."
Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington felt his inexperienced side would learn from the experience. He said: "Individual errors have cost us four out of the five goals. That knocks the confidence a bit and losing a man made it more difficult. But there were a lot of youngsters in there and it is a great learning curve for them. I have got to get them picked up again and ready for Friday night."
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