Dunne doubt clouds good news ahead of Euro clashes
KEITH ANDREWS delivered a welcome boost to Giovanni Trapattoni by returning to action at the weekend, but Richard Dunne's fitness remains a cause for concern with the crunch Euro 2012 double header with Russia and Slovakia less than a fortnight away.
Ireland boss Trapattoni spoke pessimistically about Andrews' chances of recovering from a groin problem when he named his squad for the games last Monday.
However, the 30-year-old came on as a 66th-minute substitute in Blackburn's win over Blackpool on Saturday, a bonus considering that Sam Allardyce had suggested in the preliminaries that the game might come too soon for Andrews.
He missed the qualifying wins over Armenia and Andorra, with Paul Green deputising in his absence. Trapattoni believes that Green -- who scored in Derby's thrashing of Crystal Palace on Saturday -- could cope with the challenge presented by the group's top two seeds, but the availability of his first-choice partner for Glenn Whelan is a promising development.
Now, it's the health of his defensive leader, Dunne, which will trouble the Italian. The Dubliner is struggling with a recurring knee problem and, after leaving the pitch at half-time last weekend, he duly missed Aston Villa's Carling Cup tie with Blackburn and failed to make the squad for yesterday's Premier League win at Wolves.
Gerard Houllier had indicated before the game that Dunne was a doubt, with his medical team believing that the big defender should be fine for next Saturday's Premier League meeting with Spurs -- the last game before the international window.
It was a good weekend for the two members of the Irish squad in far-flung destinations. Cillian Sheridan scored both goals for CSKA Sofia as they beat Montana, while Aiden McGeady was on target for Spartak Moscow in a 2-2 draw with Amkar Perm.
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