Wednesday 18 September 2019

Roy Keane plays down significance of Gareth Bale injury


Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during squad training at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during squad training at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Roy Keane insists Gareth Bale's unavailability will not have any impact on the difficulty of the task faced by Ireland in their final two World Cup qualifying games.

But he says that his misfortune will give Wales a taste of the challenges that Ireland have faced since their captain Seamus Coleman broke his leg in March's meeting between the sides.

Bale was yesterday ruled out of his country's matches with Georgia on Friday and Ireland on Monday when he received negative results from a scan on a calf strain.

He has missed only one competitive Wales game in four years - and they performed well in a 1-1 draw in Serbia in June - but their overall record without their star man is poor.

And he will be a major loss for Chris Coleman in their search for six points to keep their play-off hopes alive.

Ireland have the same target from their game with Moldova on Friday and the Celtic derby in Cardiff but Martin O'Neill's assistant sought to play down the significance of the Bale news - while referencing the continued unavailability of Coleman.

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale

"I still don't think it will be it any easier for us to win our next two football matches," said Keane.

"But when you look back at the last few months and last few games, you are on about Bale missing.

"Jon Walters is missing, Hendrick has been missing, McCarthy has been missing. And Seamus has been missing, in terms of what he brings on and off the park.

"There was no doubting at the time that Seamus was going to be a huge loss to us. I didn't think for one minute that we would be alright without Seamus.

Cyrus Christie has come in and done well and we have to get on with it. So our mindset has been a bit like Wales at the moment. It is part of the game, you lose players."

Ireland's injury concerns for this week are clearing. Shane Long is nursing a dead leg but Harry Arter, David McGoldrick and James McCarthy trained with the rest of the group yesterday.

Bale's absence might result in the acceleration of Liverpool rookie Ben Woodburn's development.

The 17-year-old was the hero in last month's win over Austria and could be given even greater responsibility with Bale sidelined.

Wales midfielder David Edwards said: "I have seen a lot of Ben in this campaign and he reminds me of what Gareth was like when he was younger," Edwards said.

"If you see what Gareth was like at the Euros [in 2016], the bigger the stage, the more he thrives.

"From what I have seen, I am pretty sure Ben is cut from the same cloth and he will relish the chance to show everyone he is the real deal."

Edwards acknowledged that the news was a setback.

"We knew he was injured at the weekend, obviously," said the Reading player. "But we did not know the extent of what he had done. It was disappointing to hear the news, and no one was more disappointed than Gareth.

"None of the lads will ever put pressure on Gareth. But I feel he does feel like he carries this burden of expectation from Wales as a whole. To not be involved, it will hurt him."

Irish Independent

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