Saturday 20 January 2018

Shane Duffy and Eunan O'Kane train ahead of Mexico friendly after road accident

Shane Duffy is hoping to return to action for the Republic of Ireland against Mexico
Shane Duffy is hoping to return to action for the Republic of Ireland against Mexico

Shane Duffy could get the chance to blow away his end-of-season frustration in the United States after escaping injury in a road accident.

The 25-year-old Brighton defender missed the final 11 games of his club's successful Sky Bet Championship promotion campaign after fracturing a metatarsal on March 4, but was involved in a Republic of Ireland training camp in Cork last week.

He will hope to return to action for his country during the early hours of Friday morning when they face Mexico in a friendly at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, but only after a scare when the vehicle in which he and Leeds midfielder Eunan O'Kane were travelling was involved in an accident on the way to the team hotel in Dublin on Sunday.

Both men trained at Abbotstown on Monday morning before a 19-man squad flew out to America, and manager Martin O'Neill is keen for Duffy in particular to get some football under his belt ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Austria on June 11.

O'Neill said: "He came down to Cork and did some training. He was fit and available for the last couple of weeks, but the club manager (Chris Hughton) wanted to just leave it and get himself fully right for these games, so I think it will be a good opportunity if he comes through that.

"We were a bit concerned yesterday, but it's good to see him training today. It's very important that he gets some football in before the big game against Austria."

The accident in which Duffy and O'Kane were caught up initially sparked concerns, but O'Neill revealed it was nothing too serious.

He said: "The two lads who were involved in the accident trained. They're just a little bit sore, but they wanted to do something, so that's good news.

"There was just a bit of a pile-up. Someone further up the line stopped very quickly and everybody else went into them. I don't think there's any more to report, other than that the two lads are okay."

O'Neill has left several of his senior players back at home to allow them to recover from a long and arduous season, although the bulk of those who play for Championship clubs have been finished since May 7.

But West Brom winger James McClean asked to be involved, and he could be handed a different role with no specialist left-back in the travelling party.

O'Neill said: "Most of the boys who are playing in the Premier League will join up with us after the game in the US, but James wanted to come out. He has got a great attitude.

"There is no recognised left-back, but it gives us the opportunity to experiment. We could possibly play three centre-halves and two wing-backs. James has done that before.

"It gives us the chance for a bit of experimentation."

Keeper Darren Randolph, who lost his place at West Ham to Adrian for the final five games of the Premier League season, will also be looking for a chance to regain some match sharpness, with Sheffield Wednesday's Keiren Westwood and Newcastle's Rob Elliot hot on his heels.

O'Neill said: "He was disappointed to lose his place in the team and wanted to come to America to get some game-time. He has done very well.

"It's good that Keiren is pushing him. Robbie Elliot played the last couple of games for Newcastle, but is still feeling the injury.

"We'll assess that during the next couple of days, so we'll just have the two goalkeepers coming with us."

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