Wednesday 21 February 2018

'This is what you play for' - Roy Keane believes Ireland 'ready' for Germany despite injuries

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during a press briefingtoday in Abbotstown
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during a press briefingtoday in Abbotstown

Tom Rooney

Roy Keane has revealed that the Republic of Ireland management face a tense waiting game with a number of players battling to be fit in time for Thursday’s pivotal Euro 2016 qualifier against Germany at the Aviva Stadium.

The world champions will arrive in Dublin at the summit of Group D after five straight wins, having recovered from a brief World Cup hangover early in the campaign.

Ireland's difficult task has been compounded by the suspension of Glenn Whelan and James McClean, and the loss of Ciaran Clark and Stephen Quinn to injury.

What’s more, Seamus Coleman has not played since September 12 when he sustained a hamstring injury in Everton's win Chelsea, and the former Sligo Rovers defender looks increasingly unlikely to feature on Thursday.

Derby’s Cyrus Christie has been nursing a minor aliment but, according to Keane, trained comfortably at Abbotstown today, which would somewhat mitigate the loss of Coleman, given the 23-year-old gave a fine showing in his stead during last month’s victory over Gibraltar.

However, Marc Wilson has been receiving treatment on his calf, and is yet to arrive in camp from Stoke City, and Wes Hoolahan was forced to sit out the training due to a bruised heel.

Keane admitted it was an unfavourable situation, but one that comes with the territory.

“Cyrus (Christie) trained, Wilo (Wilson) is not here yet, Seamus didn’t train, Wes didn’t train; they’re obviously carrying knocks. We’ll just play it by ear over the next couple of days. That’s life though, isn’t it? We’ve just go to get on with it,” he said.

“Seamus (Coleman) hasn’t kicked a ball in the last three or four weeks, so he would be more of a concern but we’ll just see how it goes."

Striker Kevin Doyle has arrived from America, having scored for the Colorado Rapids at the weekend, and Robbie Keane is en route following the birth of his son in Los Angeles on Monday night.

The former Manchester United captain was optimistic regarding Hoolahan’s predicament, but went on to say that it would be preferable to give all squad members a run out prior to crossing paths with the resurgent Germans.

“Doyler (Doyle) has flown in this morning and we’re waiting for Robbie to arrive, so it’s not ideal. You’ve just got to face it, and hopefully the lads might be fit in the next day or two. I think with Wes’ injury another 24 hours will make a big difference to it.

“Ideally, we’d like the lads to do something the day before the game, but it has been known for players to wait until the day of the game. Players like Wes, who has been playing regularly recently, we can give them that benefit because they’re important players for us.”

That said, the 44-year-old is looking forward to facing Germany in a game of such gravity, and expects them to be a much improved outfit to one Ireland drew with in Gelsenkirchen last October.

“I said it before, this what we play the game for. We’ve got big games against quality opposition – this is what it’s all about.

“Germany were a bit sluggish at the start but with all the quality they have, it was only a matter of time before they started winning matches. They’re top of the group now, but we’ll be ready.”

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