Keane injury scare in countdown to big match
Captain Robbie Keane picked up a groin strain during training today. And while it raises a concern ahead of the Macedonia game, Marco Tardelli - Giovanni Trapattoni’s number two - hopes Ireland’s record scorer will be fit to start in Skopje on Saturday.
Aside from the Keane situation, Trapattoni has a positive problem for Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier with Macedonia because of a man who refused to give up hope of involvement.
Preston defender Sean St Ledger -- who was initially ruled out last week with a knee problem that has kept him out of action since March -- took a full part in training in Malahide yesterday and says he is ready to figure.
The Irish squad flies to the Macedonian capital Skopje this afternoon and Trapattoni will be mulling over the identity of his back four. He had been planning without St Ledger, and declared that Darren O'Dea would partner John O'Shea in the heart of the defence.
However, the 72-year-old will now make a decision between St Ledger and O'Dea, both of whom are on the comeback trail from injuries which ended their club seasons prematurely.
"Sean (St Ledger) is a lot better, but I don't know if I will take a risk with him," said Trapattoni. "But the other players are fit and that is important.
"We have another (friendly) game with Italy (next Tuesday), so I will decide after training tomorrow.
"O'Dea played well against Macedonia in March. This will be a very tough game. We may need to make changes after one hour maybe. That is important."
Trapattoni has indicated that veteran Kevin Kilbane will come in for Stephen Ward at left-back. Paul McShane, Kevin Foley and Stephen Kelly are competing for the right-back slot.
"It's an away game and we need experience," said Trapattoni. "They look for corners and free-kicks and are dangerous in that situation. We must pay attention to these details."
Shane Long returned to training with the Irish squad yesterday after the disappointment of missing out on promotion with Reading on Monday.