Walters will be given extra time to prove fitness for Swedish test
Published 08/06/2016 | 02:30
Jon Walters has earned the right to be given extra time to prove his fitness ahead of Monday's kick-off date with Sweden.
That's the opinion of assistant manager Roy Keane, as the key man in qualifying continues to sit out training with the rest of the group due to Achilles issues. He engaged in a light jog yesterday and, realistically, he won't be in a position to step up his preparations for the Euros until later this week in France.
Keane thinks that the Stoke man will have to do some training on Saturday to really have a chance of figuring in the first game, yet he is reluctant to set firm deadlines for an important player with a naturally high fitness level.
"Jon has earned the right, the benefit of the doubt and a few more days to get ready for the game," said the Corkman.
"I think there has been improvement and Jon's body language is a lot more positive but we'll have to give it a few more days on that one."
The medical staff will take feedback from the 32-year-old on how he is feeling.
"Jon will gauge his own body what he can and can't do. In an ideal world you want your all your players training every day, even at club level," continued Keane, who is relaxed about the other injury doubts Robbie Brady and Robbie Keane.
"You're guessing if he'll be involved on Monday, he would have to do something by the weekend and join in the group.
"Certainly, I'm guessing by Saturday because it's been over a week now since he's not done anything. But it really is one of those ones, play it by ear, see how he goes day by day. We have to trust the player.
"So I think if we have to give him an extra day, up to Sunday or whatever to see if he can be involved, I'm sure he would get the benefit of that doubt."
Walters was Ireland's outstanding player in 2015 and his former manager at Ipswich feels that he embodies the spirit of this side.
"Jon a big player for us, a big character. He reflects our team in a lot of ways," he said.
"We keep talking about spirit. The quality he has shown in some of the games, but also in the dressing rooms and the warm-ups - Jon is a huge character for us."
A week ago, James McCarthy was the major concern, but Keane delivered an extremely positive bulletin on the Everton midfielder.
"If you hadn't mentioned him, I wouldn't have brought him up," he said. "He's back in the group and that's it."