Monday 18 December 2017

Given may opt out of kicking duties in bid to face Slovakia

Given is still feeling the effects of back and groin problems. Photo: Getty Images
Given is still feeling the effects of back and groin problems. Photo: Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI is contemplating taking Shay Given off kicking duty as concerns linger over the Ireland goalkeeper's well-being ahead of tomorrow's crucial Euro 2012 qualifier with Slovakia.

Given took a light part in training in Malahide yesterday, but is still feeling the effects of back and groin problems after a bruising start to life at Aston Villa.

It's the latter complaint that has emerged as the real dilemma, with assistant Marco Tardelli yesterday suggesting that the 35-year-old may call on one of his defenders to take kick-outs.

This happened briefly during the June qualifier in Macedonia, with Sean St Ledger taking over when Given was struggling.

"For me, goalkeepers kick too much, during the match and during training. Also, for Aston Villa against Wolves, it was a problem that he kept on kicking the ball out," said Tardelli. "I think he'll be okay, but if there's a problem, St Ledger and Dunne can kick it."

Tardelli added that Given will discuss with the Irish medical staff whether he requires a painkilling injection to get through the fixture. It's a worry for Ireland with the Donegal man facing two such taxing games in close proximity, with Tuesday's trip to Moscow sure to be a demanding examination.

Kevin Kilbane remains a doubt. He left training early yesterday with pain in his back and returned to the team hotel for massage treatment.

The struggles he is experiencing have increased the chances of a first competitive start for Wolves' Stephen Ward. Trapattoni is likely to name his team this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Richard Dunne has indicated that he will prolong his international career into the World Cup qualifiers, although the defender won't confirm his plans until this campaign is over.

"I don't know," he said. "If we qualified, then you might start thinking we're going through a period where we might start qualifying for more tournaments. I wouldn't want to miss out on that. Hopefully, I won't have to make a decision until next June or July."

Dunne, an unused squad member at the World Cup in 2002, believes that Trapattoni is the man to end Ireland's qualification drought.

"I think we'll get there eventually and he's the man to do it," he declared.

"I'd love to play in a major tournament for Ireland. This is probably my second last chance of trying to get there. Come the summer, it would give the whole country a lift."

Irish Independent

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