Monday 11 December 2017

'Jon will put his body on the line' - Roy Keane and Ireland willing to give Walters as long as possible

Jonathan Walters of Ireland pictured in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying Round Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Austria at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on June11, 2017 (Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Jonathan Walters of Ireland pictured in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifying Round Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Austria at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on June11, 2017 (Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Ireland assistant Roy Keane knows Jon Walters will be willing to 'put his body on the line' in Tbilisi on Saturday but says that management have to be mindful of a player's welfare before taking any risks.

The Burnley player has reported for duty after damaging ankle ligaments in a League Cup game with Blackburn last Wednesday.

He has been working with physios in Abbotstown this week but Keane is hopeful that the player can join in with the rest of the group later this week to give himself a fighting chance of featuring against Georgia in the first leg of a vital double. Keane trusts the 33-year-old to embrace the challenge because of his strength of character.

"It helps when a player is positive about his chances of playing, that's important," said Keane today.

"The type of character he is - Jon will put his body on the line if that's what youre asking but you have to be fair to the player and his club

"We'd like to think he's got a chance. He didn't train today with us and we'll play it by ear over the next few days.  He'll hopefully join in tomorrow or Thursday. I'm not really spoken to anyone today about him because we knew he wasn't training with us.

"The fact he's here with the squad makes me think he'll have a chance for the weekend. But we know it's a nasty knock he got.

"We have fingers crossed he'll be fit because he would be a big loss to us like Seamus (Coleman), Jeff (Hendrick) and all those boys but we've done it before, we've missed players and boys have come in."

One player who didn't get the chance to do that this week is Preston's Sean Maguire, with Keane acknowledging he was perhaps a little unfortunate not to make the final cut. His lack of experience was a factor, but the ex-Cork City man has impressed Martin O'Neill's deputy.

"He's probably unlucky," said Keane, who hinted that any more injury worries could bring him into contention before next Tuesday's Dublin date with Serbia.  "There's a few days to play with. Don't rule him out getting involved before next week.

"I've seen him once or twice this season, he's been sharp and if he keeps doing what he's doing, he'll be in with a shout."

Keane dismissed recent speculation linking him with a move to manage Israel, but confirmed that he would like to manage on his own again at some stage.

"I've got a lot of strengths but what I can't do is look in the future," he continued. "I'm enjoying the role here, I'm happy. Whatever happens. next week, tomorrow, it doesn't really matter."

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