Sunday 25 September 2016

Skipper named in squad despite injury but Forde and Arter miss out

Published 01/06/2016 | 02:30

Robbie Keane is still Ireland's best finisher despite being 35 years of age
Robbie Keane is still Ireland's best finisher despite being 35 years of age

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill last night revealed that Robbie Keane is facing a race against time to be fit for Ireland's Euro 2016 opener with Sweden on June 13.

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The captain and record goalscorer was named in the 23-man squad at Turner's Cross after the 2-1 defeat against Belarus last night, despite struggling with a calf injury.

One player not so fortunate with injury was Harry Arter, who was omitted by O'Neill due to the damaged groin he sustained in training on Monday.

With Keane and James McCarthy struggling, O'Neill admitted that he could not wait for Arter but indicated that if he returns to fitness in 10 days then he could come into the fold if another player is forced to withdraw.

O'Neill values Keane's presence around the camp, but he might miss the Sweden date.

"Robbie's very hopeful anyway he'll make it and should be ok. If not for the first game then for the matches after that. But who knows. Robbie is a quick healer."

The hardest call for the manager was leaving out David Forde, his pick for the opening four qualifiers, and opting for the in-form Keiren Westwood as third choice keeper.

As well as Forde and Arter, David McGoldrick, Eunan O'Kane, Darron Gibson and Callum O'Dowda were cut from the pre-tournament squad last night.

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