GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI's preparations for next month's World Cup qualifying clash with the Faroe Islands have been dealt another blow after LA Galaxy prevented Robbie Keane from joining up with the Ireland squad until just before the fixture.
The club have opted to keep Major League Soccer's highest-paid player in the US for their league games against the Seattle Sounders and New England Revolution rather than allow him to travel to play in the friendlies against England and Georgia, which fall outside FIFA's international window.
That is despite the FAI's assertion that the Ireland captain "very much wanted to travel for the fixtures" in Wembley in a week's time and Dublin four days later.
The friendlies are seen as key to Trapattoni's preparation for the crucial qualifier against the Faroes, a match Ireland need to win if they are to have any hope of reaching the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Keane has been an automatic first choice when fit, but after Shane Long's performance against Austria and Keane's limited preparation time ahead of the Faroes clash, his place in the side could come under threat.
News of Keane's unavailability comes after Anthony Pilkington was withdrawn from Trapattoni's squad with knee and hamstring injuries by Norwich City, despite playing a part in the club's last five games of the season.
Canaries boss Chris Hughton has defended his decision not to allow Pilkington to join up with the international squad.
It is the fourth time the winger has withdrawn after being named in an Ireland squad since he threw in his lot with the Boys in Green, but former Ireland full-back Hughton said the decision was purely about ensuring his long-term fitness.
"We have to try to make sure we make the right decisions as regards him," Hughton said.
"He has come strong at the end of the season, but it's certainly an injury he has to rest. He has a patellar tendon injury and that is what has hampered him for a little bit of his season."