Martin O'Neill hopes Robbie Keane and James McCarthy will be fit for Sweden game
Martin O'Neill is hopeful of having Robbie Keane and James McCarthy available to him for the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2016 opener against Sweden.
Both men were selected in O'Neill's final 23-man squad despite carrying injuries - in Keane's case a calf problem and in McCarthy's a hamstring strain - and neither played in the warm-up games against the Netherlands and Belarus before the squad arrived in France on Wednesday.
However, both took part in training at the Stade de Montbauron in Versailles on Thursday and the manager is keeping his fingers crossed that he will have the option of selecting the pair as Group E gets under way on Monday.
O'Neill told FAI TV: "Fingers crossed. It's looking more positive, let's say, than about six or seven days ago.
"Robbie himself said that he's a quick healer - he's doing fine at the moment - and I think there's been very little reaction to the training that James has done., so that's a very good sign."
Jonathan Walters remains the only significant injury doubt and with the players having been given a rest day on Thursday, medical staff are hopefully that the issue he has with an Achilles tendon will have lessened by the time they resume work on Friday.
O'Neill said: "We had a day off today. What we decided with the medical staff was we would try to keep as close to how the boys would be preparing, let's say, for club football and with Monday's game in mind, we'll train a couple of days beforehand.
"Although we climbed on the bus and went down to the training ground, it was really just a walk.
"The medical staff are saying just leave Jon Walters as he is at this minute and let's see how he is tomorrow just to see if there was any reaction from yesterday's training and the rest of the boys, I just think they have recovered reasonably well."
O'Neill will use the weekend to finalise his preparations for what is likely to be a key game for Ireland with excitement levels rising by the day.
Asked if it had started to feel real now, the 64-year-old replied: "Very much so. It's right upon us.
"When you think that you are coming in on Wednesday, I think you forget the competition actually starts quickly, and the weekend will fly in, I bet you. We'll just get ourselves prepared."
Meanwhile, the Football Association of Ireland has confirmed it has agreed a re-finance deal with the Bank of Ireland which has reduced the debt incurred by the construction of the Aviva Stadium by 10million Euros.
The FAI's overall debt now stands at 35million Euros and has been halved in the last seven years with billionaire businessman Denis O'Brien continuing his support by part-funding the new contracts for O'Neill and his staff which were announced earlier this week.
Chief executive John Delaney said: "The Board of the FAI and I would like to pay tribute and thanks to Denis O'Brien and his advisory support through Island Capital Ltd to achieve this positive outcome for Irish football.
"Denis has been a great supporter of the FAI for many years and will continue to contribute to the salaries of our senior management team with the Republic of Ireland squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign."