IS this finally the beginning of the end of Robbie Keane's wonderful Ireland career? Ireland's skipper has been forced to withdraw from tomorrow's crunch World Cup qualifier against Germany.
His absence will remove another huge block of experience from Trapattoni’s already |much-reduced line-up to take on Germany in the Aviva after a clash in training with Paul McShane on Tuesday caused Keane's Achilles to flare up and he expressed doubts about his chances yesterday.
“I've had a problem with my Achilles for a while,” he said. “I got a kick on it in training and it has swollen up.”
Giovanni Trapattoni had hoped that the injury would calm down overnight, but Keane was unable to train this morning and FAI medics ruled him out of the Germany tussle.
He will, however, remain with the squad for the duration and may be fit to play against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn on Tuesday.
Trapattoni had intended to use Keane as a lone striker to allow an extra midfield man to shackle Mesut Ozil.
Jon Walters will now step up to the task of replacing Ireland's record goalscorer, but it is difficult to tell whether Keane’s absence will require further tactical adjustments.
Walters carries the physical presence which Trapattoni believes will be necessary against the Germans.
Yesterday, Walters was asked about Ireland's move to a three-man midfield and how it would impact on the team.
“Well you say it's a formation change here but I think I'm used to that formation, playing in the Premier League, and I think James McCarthy is used to that formation at Wigan,” he said.
“I think with the three in midfield the onus is on us to keep the ball a bit better and dominate midfield really.
“That's what we've done at Stoke. And you do get a lot more chances going forward with a lot of runners looking to get behind and support the lone striker.