Saturday 16 December 2017

Relief for Ireland as Walters returns to training while Keane reveals a possible surprise inclusion for Sweden

Paul Hyland in Versailles

JON Walters put his Euro 2016 hopes on the line in Versailles today by testing his injured Achilles in a full training session.

After a week of restricted work while the rest of the Irish squad put in some very intense sessions, Walters knew he had to reassure Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane that he is ready for Sweden on Monday.

He appears to have been successful. Keane believes that Walters did enough to prove hit fitness and barring a reaction, will be ready to play at the Stade de France.

"Jon trained today and got through the session from start to finish. We'll see over the next 24 hours if there is any reaction'" said Keane.

Read more: 'It's none of your business': Keane refuses to say whether Ireland contract contains release clause

"He'll be delighted and we are. We have everyone available which is great.

"If he's available for Monday, we'll worry about games after.

"It was a decent enough session, it's not as if he walked around," added Keane.

The Ireland assistant also talked about Blackburn defender Shane Duffy, and revealed that the centre back could be a surprise inclusion in the team to face Sweden.

"On top of getting in the squad, I think he's got a great chance of getting in the starting eleven," he said.

Keane and the rest of the Irish group put up their feet for a few hours to watch the tournament opener and he is feeling the buzz growing.

"We're looking forward to it. It was great to see the first game of football. We are here to enjoy it, it's fantastic for fans, you can feel the buzz.

"But we're professional people and we have to get results. Well enjoy it a lot more if we get results

"You have to enjoy it as players, were focused on going out and doing the country proud," added the Ireland No. 2.

Stephen Quinn is another player pushing hard for a place in Martin O'Neill's starting line up for Sweden on Monday and reckons he's making progress.

"I'd like to think I have a good chance. I had a decent game against Holland and I'm ready and waiting," he said.

Quinn was delighted to see Jon Walters back in harness on the training pitch.

"Hopefully everybody will be fit. We need a strong squad facing some of the best players in the world. Jonny is back in training and he looked sharp."

Quinn feels that the players are now fully primed for Sweden.

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"You can only train so much. We're more than ready. We've done our camp."

Quinn joined the rest of the Ireland squad to view France's opening win over Romania.

"We all got together to watch it. It's really exciting and starting to build," he said.

"It will be a proud moment for all of us. Me personally, it's the pinnacle of my career. I saw my brother play for Ireland and he never had a chance to play in major tournament.

"I'm here and I don't want to make up the numbers. I'd like to get some game time and show what I've got."

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