Sunday 8 December 2019

Robbie Keane admits Euro 2016 injury worry "could have been worse"

Republic of Ireland skipper Robbie Keane has admitted he feared the worst when he suffered a calf injury on the eve of the Euro 2016 finals.

The 35-year-old striker is not expected to resume training until the middle of next week at the earliest after damaging the muscle on Saturday, but is confident that if he does not make the opening game against Sweden in Paris on June 13 he will definitely be fit for the clash with Belgium in Bordeaux five days later.

Keane told FAI TV: "Listen, it's never nice when you get injured, but certainly at this stage because of the European Championship. But luckily for me, it's not as bad as I first thought.

"I thought it was going to be a lot longer. They are saying a couple of weeks, which would obviously get me (fit) for the Sweden game, or maybe if I miss that one, I'll definitely be ready for the second game. So it's bad news, but it could have been a lot worse."

Keane did not work with his team-mates at Fota Island in Cork on Thursday morning, but was able to indulge in a game of hurling with staff member Dick Redmond.

Midfielder James McCarthy did train after nursing a hamstring problem last week, but Jonathan Walters was put through his paces in the gym after a knock to a calf muscle.

The squad will head back to Dublin after training on Friday and after a weekend off, reunite on Sunday night before flying to France on Wednesday.

Under Martin O'Neill, preparations appear to have been slightly more relaxed than four years ago, when then manager Giovanni Trapattoni had his players in camp in Dublin and Montecatini before a final warm-up game in Hungary on the way to Poland.

Keane said: "When you are away from your family and you are with the team for a long period of time, sometimes it can be frustrating, it can get boring if players are not playing.

"But one thing I would say about this group is we have some team spirit that keeps the lads together and I think that will stand us in good stead going forward.

"It's certainly something that I'm looking forward to. I've been involved in a couple before, but there seems a great togetherness between everybody, not just the players, but the coaching staff, the backroom staff and everybody.

"People under-estimate that. Certainly from the outside, they think it's about the players and they only see the players who are on the field and the players who are on the bench that get involved.

"But it's way bigger than that, it's about everybody that's involved because everybody keeps everybody together and we are very, very lucky with that."

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