McShane out as O'Dea give Trap new scare
THE luck of the Irish was in short supply yesterday as the squad suffered two further blows ahead of Friday's European Championship opener away to Armenia.
First, 23-year-old Darren O'Dea hit the deck clutching his right knee in agony after a freak training-ground accident and then Paul McShane was ruled out of the trip to Yerevan.
McShane did some light training with the squad in the morning, but was later sent back to Hull because of a niggling hamstring problem. He may return for next Tuesday's qualifier against Andorra if the injury responds to treatment in the meantime.
O'Dea, recently signed by Ipswich manager Roy Keane on loan from Celtic, will be reassessed today, having left the training pitch writhing in pain near the end of a two-touch game.
The sight of the Dubliner lying on the ground receiving treatment sent a shudder among the watching spectators and media representatives. A stretcher was produced, but eventually O'Dea hobbled off the pitch, his right knee wrapped in a heavy bandage.
Afterwards team doctor Alan Byrne said: "Darren caught his studs in the turf and twisted his knee. He was in some discomfort initially and his hamstring went into spasm. It settled down and he was able to walk off the pitch unattended."
A later bulletin following a scan revealed a minor sprain to O'Dea's knee joint, but no serious damage.
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has already been hit by the withdrawal from the squad of Damien Duff, Keith Andrews, and Keith Treacy, while Stephen Hunt, Caleb Folan and Leon Best were not considered because of injuries
Add to that niggling injuries affecting Robbie Keane, Aiden McGeady and Richard Dunne, and it's clear that the Armenia trip is shaping up to be a tougher prospect than originally anticipated.
Assistant manager Marco Tardelli admitted that this was the worst injury crisis of Trapattoni's Ireland reign.
He said: "Many players are injured, but we have many options in the squad. We have two players for each position. We don't feel we need to call in anyone else."
As for Keane, Tardelli tipped Ireland's record goalscorer to hit the net on Friday, despite Keane admitting that he's having problems kicking a ball. "Robbie is well and he will play in Armenia," insisted Tardelli. "He is fit and worked hard in training."
The Irish talisman trained yesterday with an unusual brace fitted along his right leg from the knee downwards. It didn't inhibit his movement too much but Keane, the subject of transfer speculation right up to yesterday's 6.0 deadline, was careful about any contact he made with the ball.
"It's sore when I kick the ball, but there is no problem when I'm twisting or turning," he said. "It's something that I have had for a while, but it will be okay."
Aiden McGeady has concerns about an ankle injury and, after a full blooded left-foot shot, he clearly felt some reaction as he gingerly tested the foot as he moved back into position.
Within a few minutes, the former Celtic ace appeared to be moving freely.
McGeady and Liam Lawrence, who trained instead of travelling to sign for Portsmouth in the morning as was expected, are well short of match practice, but Tardelli is confident that they will contribute.
"All the players are very sharp. I think it's better if they play for their clubs, but, if they don't, they play with us. And maybe the rest means they will be stronger for the next match," he said.
The former Italian World Cup winner expects a hot reception in Yerevan in more ways than one, as temperatures are normally quite high at this time of year.
"Yes, the temperature will be very hot for us and it was also very hot in Cyprus. Montenegro too. But if we play well and with attention, it's not important whether it's rain or sun.
"Armenia are a good team and very dangerous at home because the atmosphere generated by the crowd is very strong. They play quickly and are very tough. They have new, young players -- I have seen many DVDs -- and I think we need to pay attention.
"I saw the DVD against Iran and even though they lost they played well," he said.
Tardelli is confident the Irish can score goals and doesn't care if they get them early or late in the match.
"For us, it's important to score, even if it's in the last minute. But if we concentrate, I think it's possible for us to come out of this match with a good result. A win? I hope so," he said.
The Italian accepts that Ireland's U-21 team's 4-1 defeat by Armenia last November is a warning of the threat they pose on their home turf, especially as they have promoted a number of their U-21s to the senior squad.
"Yes, this is a warning to us. I saw that match. We know that the Armenia team is good. I told you before. We need to pay attention in this match, because it's very important for us to get a good result."