Trapattoni defends picks

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Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has defended his decision to leave Blackburn's Steven Reid and Portsmouth's Steve Finnan out of the 25-man squad for the World Cup qualifying play-off against France.

Sunderland's Andy Reid and Coventry's Clinton Morrison are also out of the party named by Trapattoni for the two-legged play-off against France at Croke Park on November 14 and Stade de France on November 18.

"This team now is balanced," he said. "I cannot change now."

Trapattoni recently said he did not think Steven Reid would play again following injury, a statement which drew a furious response from the player's club manager Sam Allardyce.

The Rovers chief had labelled the Italian's suggestion the 28-year-old may never recover sufficiently from his injury problems to continue his career at the highest level "disgusting" and "disgraceful" - and called for an unequivocal apology.

But announcing his squad today Trapattoni remained unrepentant. He continued: "It is not the time to change the team now. We have a mentality (to beat France), we cannot change the team now. We performed strongly throughout the qualifying group stages.

"We were undefeated in all 10 games and this is a reflection of how we have played and also the mental strength of this team."

Despite the strength of the opposition Trapattoni believes his Republic squad showed enough during the group stage of the qualifying campaign, where they finished second behind Italy in European Group Eight.

Trapattoni added: "France have a strong squad but we go into this play-off knowing that we are only 180 minutes away from qualifying for the World Cup."

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Steve Finnan
Blackburn Rovers
Premier League
Andy Reid
Clinton Morrison
Steven Reid
Stephen Finnan
Coventry City

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