Thursday 14 December 2017

Keane a cause of concern for Ireland

Giovanni Trapattoni believes Robbie Keane, pictured, will be fit to face Austria
Giovanni Trapattoni believes Robbie Keane, pictured, will be fit to face Austria

Skipper Robbie Keane is anxiously awaiting the outcome of a scan on his calf as the Ireland prepare for their World Cup qualifier showdown with Austria.

The 32-year-old is in line to win his 124th senior cap at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday evening, but only if he is given the go-ahead to play after suffering an injury during the creditable 0-0 draw in Sweden on Friday evening.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni, however, is hopeful that his captain, Ireland's leading international goalscorer with 54, will be fit and ready to play again. The Italian said: "Robbie is having a scan on his calf. He has a little bit of pain, but the scan will clarify the situation. I think he can play, but we will wait for the decision after this scan."

Keane freely admits he has played for much of his career carrying niggling injuries, and he will be desperate to be involved in a game which could have a major bearing on Ireland's hopes of making it to the finals in Brazil next summer.

The deserved point with which Trapattoni's men returned from Stockholm kept them firmly in the race for second place in Group C, although they dropped to fourth place as a result of Austria's 6-0 demolition of the Faroe Islands.

However, with the Swedes not in action on Tuesday evening, victory over the Austrians would leave the Republic in possession, for the time being at least, of the runners-up spot, and no one within the camp is underestimating the importance of the fixture.

Asked if he would field the same team at the Aviva Stadium as he did at the Friends Arena, Trapattoni said, somewhat coyly: "Ninety-nine per cent, maybe.

"Obviously there is the scan for Robbie Keane - Robbie played very, very well and his experience has been important. I think he can be ready.

"But this game, we must think about all our possibilities. It's a game we want to win, but also those who don't start, the one or two or three changes (substitutions) will be very, very important."

Glenn Whelan returned to training today and is expected to resume against Austria, but as well as Keane, Trapattoni has a doubt over Jon Walters, who has a back problem.

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