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Monday 19 February 2018

Delight for Jack Charlton as Ronnie Whelan passes World Cup fitness test

Ronnie Whelan
Ronnie Whelan

John Downing and  Jerome Reilly in Palermo

REPUBLIC of Ireland midfielder Ronnie Whelan yesterday came through a make-or-break World Cup fitness test with flying colours

The Dubliner, who has not played a match for eight weeks after breaking a bone in his foot, gave Jack Charlton a welcome boost and put himself into contention for a place in tomorrow's clash with Egypt.

Whelan was put through the mill during a strenuous 30-minute training session by Irish assistant manager Maurice Setters at the squad's training camp in Terrasini.

Despite all that was thrown at him by Setters, the Liverpool star looked fit and ready to resume the World Cup trail.

In Palermo, ticketless Irish fans were last night frantically searching for tickets to tomorrow's game. But FAI officials say there are sure to be empty places in the 40,000-seat Della Favorita Stadium for the game with Egypt.

The Irish consul in Sicily and the FAI organisers say they have been inundated with ticket requests — but can do nothing for people. The Irish committee are still awaiting a reply from World Cup organisers, FIFA, to their request for a tightening up of the ticket distribution.

Last night FAI general secretary Dr. Tony O'Neill, again contacted the FIFA organiser, Brian Emery, but was told FIFA are still considering their submission. The FAI want FIFA to make more tickets available to Irish fans from tomorrow morning. But they do not expect to hear the FIFA response until later today.

There are expected to be 2,000 Irish fans in Palermo without tickets by later today. Dr. O'Neill says that he and his officials will do everything they can to help, but can guarantee nothing.

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