Martin O'Neill will give Darron Gibson a chance to impress in tomorrow’s international friendly with Oman as the Derryman continues his recuperation from a cruciate ligament injury.
Gibson has not played a competitive match since damaging his knee on Ireland duty last October and, while he was involved for Everton in pre-season, Roberto Martinez has left the player out of their opening league encounters.
With a view to Sunday’s opening Euro 2016 qualifier in Georgia, O’Neill will use the non-competitive outing with Oman to give certain players a chance to build match fitness.
Gibson, Wigan’s James McClean and Burnley new boy Stephen Ward are three players which stand to benefit from that policy. Hull’s Robbie Brady, who like Gibson has yet to feature under O’Neill, will feature at some point.
“Darron will start in the game,” said O’Neill, “He hasn’t played any competitive football, he feels quite sharp.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing players with a bit of sharpness. I haven’t seen Darron play recently and I think it’ll be a bit of a mixture of a team. I always felt, we needed some sort of game before Georgia and I’d like to see the fitness levels.”
Joey O’Brien is out for the entire gathering with a knee problem while James McCarthy will sit out the Oman game as a precaution as he is suffering with blisters.
Robbie Keane arrived from Los Angeles on Monday night and trained with the rest of the group. Keane caused the Irish camp concern last week when he was sidelined at LA Galaxy but he returned to make a scoring contribution from the bench on Sunday and may figure over the course of the 90 minutes.
Gibson, who was also present at the pre-game press conference in Malahide, says it is a huge relief to be back in the fold.
“It’s been quite tough,” he said, “I was devastated when I did the cruciate. The physios at Everton are unbelievable and they made it quite easy for me."
"There were a few low moments and the hardest thing was going every week to Goodison and watching the lads but there wasn’t much I could really do about it.”