Tuesday 10 December 2019

Jonathan Walters scare as calf issues hit strikers

Skipper Keane admits he feared he would miss tournament when he suffered his problem

Robbie Keane. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Robbie Keane. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Jon Walters is the latest Ireland striker to be affected by calf problems, with captain Robbie Keane confessing that he initially expected to miss the tournament when he was struck down last Saturday.

Walters received a kick in his calf on Wednesday and didn't train with the rest of the group in Fota yesterday, instead leaving the session early to go and work in the gym with the medical staff.

His problem is minor compared to Keane, who is in no position to train at the moment and told the FAI's website yesterday that he thought he would be out for more than a fortnight when he picked up the setback.

"I thought it was going to be a lot longer but they're saying a couple of weeks, which would maybe get me (back) for the Sweden game, or if I miss that one I would definitely be ready for the second game.

"It's bad news but it could have been a lot worse. It's never nice when you get injured, particularly at this stage because of the European Championships."

Daryl Murphy is the other member of Ireland's forward contingent who has been compromised by a calf complaint. It ruled him out of the end of Ipswich's club campaign and, while the 33-year-old has now returned to fitness, his lack of match sharpness was evident in the 2-1 loss to Belarus on Tuesday.

Assistant manager Roy Keane was critical of several individual performances in that game but has subsequently claimed that some of his comments were intended to be tongue in cheek. "It's nice to have a little setback to remind you of the hard work ahead," he said.

The Ireland squad will hold their final training session at Fota Island today before travelling to Dublin where the players will be given time off until Sunday evening.

On the plus side, James McCarthy took a more active role in yesterday's session.

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