FEARS continue to grow over Richard Dunne's fitness ahead of Ireland's key World Cup 2014 qualifiers against Germany and the Faroe Islands.
The 33-year-old centre-back is expected to be named in Giovanni Trapattoni's squad tomorrow, but his intended return date of Aston Villa's October 7 clash against Spurs -- five days before Joachim Loew takes his star-studded side to Lansdowne Road -- now looks beyond him, putting his ability to play for his country in doubt.
The Italian will be desperate to get his defensive leader back into the fold, even if it means playing his first game of the season against the Germans.
Villa boss Paul Lambert has said that underlying issues remain with the surgery that Dunne underwent on the groin injury he sustained playing at the European Championships, and the manager wants his medical team to get to the bottom of the problem before he can make his return to action.
Meanwhile, Kevin Foley has been encouraged to reconsider his self-imposed international exile by Wolves manager Stale Solbakken.
The Luton native made his first start of the season for the Championship side in Saturday's 2-0 win over Peterboro after recovering from a knee injury and impressed his Norwegian boss, who wants him to think long and hard about returning.
"I don't know what really happened at the end there but I think any player that is good enough to play for their national team should play for the national team if they feel that is right," he said. "Kevin is a very sensible man who probably knows best himself."
Elsewhere, Dunne's deputy, Darren O'Dea, endured a difficult weekend outing against his international captain as his Toronto FC side slumped to a 4-2 defeat to the LA Galaxy, a match in which Robbie Keane scored the third and fourth goals. A rueful O'Dea lamented coming up against his former Celtic team-mate as he continues to adapt to the American game.
"It's disappointing when you look at the goals. Two of them we could have done better with," he admitted. "Robbie showed his class. When you give him a chance, he'll score. I think he only had two shots on goal, but that's all he needs. We got punished."
The Tallaght man's goals helped ensure Bruce Arena's champions qualify for the Major League Soccer play-offs and kept his recent run of goalscoring form going ahead of his international return.
Keane has now scored 14 times to help turn underperforming Galaxy's season around and former US coach Arena praised him after the clash.
"Robbie is here to score goals, and he's done that. Robbie continues to get chances, it is good to see him finish them... We're moving forward as a team. Our experienced players in David (Beckham) and Robbie have helped really turn this thing around."