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Sunday 26 February 2017

Republic and Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot suffers serious knee injury

Newcastle and Republic goalkeeper Rob Elliot faces a nervy wait
Newcastle and Republic goalkeeper Rob Elliot faces a nervy wait

Martin O'Neill has revealed Rob Elliot suffered a "serious knee injury" which could end both his Euro 2016 dream and his hopes of helping to keep Newcastle in the Barclays Premier League.

The 29-year-old goalkeeper was hurt as he tried to keep out Miroslav Stoch's opener in the Republic of Ireland's 2-2 draw with Slovakia on Tuesday evening, and now both club and country will anxiously await news of the extent of the problem.

However, Republic boss O'Neill was downcast as he revealed the early signs were not promising, with the indications that Elliot has suffered ligament damage.

He said: "He's not great. He's got a serious knee injury. It's a real disappointment and obviously a dampener on the evening, particularly when he is getting his career together.

"He was going really well at Newcastle and looking forward to the game and coming here into the squad with a lot of confidence.

"I have just spoken to the doctor and he's not happy."

Asked if Elliot's season could be over, O'Neill added: "It might be too early for me to be making those assumptions. I was asking the doctor before I came out.

"I hope to see Rob - I think he's coming back to the hotel later on - but I don't think it's good."

Newcastle later said on their official Twitter feed that the extent of the injury would be assessed on Wednesday.

It read: "Rob will be assessed by the club's medical team tomorrow and we will provide supporters with a further update in due course."

Elliot's misfortune struck just days after Jack Butland's broken ankle opened the door for veteran Ireland international Shay Given at Stoke.

The 39-year-old is currently working his way back from his own knee injury and spoke to O'Neill about his progress before the game, at which he was working at a television pundit.

The manager said: "Shay came into the dressing room - I think he was doing some work for TV today. Obviously the injury to their goalkeeper at Stoke has maybe hastened things on a little bit for him.

"He was down to play, I think, two games in relatively quick succession, but those plans might change now with Butland being injured."

Asked on Setanta about his fitness, Given said: "I feel I could play at the weekend. It has given me a lift. I had a buzz in training today. I had reserve games pencilled in for next week.

"I just spoke to Martin and the players down there to catch up. He asked me how I was - he is hoping I get into Stoke team to make the decision more difficult for him."

On the pitch, Slovakia took the lead through Stoch's expert 14th-minute finish, but Ireland overhauled them inside a remarkable two-minute period when first keeper Matus Kozacik and then skipper Martin Skrtel were penalised for trips on Shane Long inside the area.

Long converted the first spot-kick himself and James McClean the second, although the visitors claimed a share of the spoils in the final minutes of the half when defender Paul McShane unwittingly deflected Peter Pekarik's cross past replacement keeper Darren Randolph.

Slovakia boss Jan Kozak was happy enough with the result, if not at least one of the decisions which led to it.

He said: "The two penalties were not really two penalties, one was. But penalties are part of the game.

"We showed that we are a good team. We kept going and played very well. We stuck together and gave everything. I saw some problems in defence, but basically, I can saw it was very good.

"The game ended in a draw and that was very good. Ireland are a very good team with a lot of experience, so I am glad we finished with a draw."

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