O'Shea ruled out of Tallinn trip but refuses to give up on play-off dream
JOHN O'SHEA is out of the first leg of Ireland's Euro 2012 play-off with Estonia but is refusing to give up hope of a return for the second leg.
The Sunderland man has suffered a Grade One hamstring tear and has accepted he will be unavailable for tomorrow week's showdown in Tallinn.
However, he is desperate to figure in the decisive meeting in Dublin four days later. His club believe the 30-year-old has a slim chance but respect his wishes given the significance of the fixture.
There was slightly better news for Giovanni Trapattoni last night, with Shane Long returning to light jogging at West Brom -- though it is still odds against the Tipp man being available for either game.
It's a similar prognosis for O'Shea, with Steve Bruce predicting a two to three-week lay-off for the Waterford man, who aggravated an old problem in last Saturday's Premier League clash with Aston Villa.
"John's injury is pretty straightforward, it looks like a normal hamstring, a Grade One, and I think he is two or three weeks away," said Bruce.
O'Shea's issues mean that Fulham's Stephen Kelly is in line to come into the side for next Friday's encounter with the Baltic nation.
He was deployed at left-back in last month's win over Armenia, but the return of Stephen Ward will free up Kelly to move to the other side. Hull's Paul McShane is the only other alternative at right-full.
Meanwhile, O'Shea's former team-mate Roy Keane has been strongly linked with the vacant position of Leicester City boss. Bookies reported strong support for Keane yesterday, although Lee Clark remains the favourite.
Keane has been out of football since January and would be interested in the position, which is free following Sven-Goran Eriksson's sacking.