Sport Soccer

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Kelly insists wild horses would not be able to stop Given playing

David Kelly

David Kelly

Ireland have dismissed fears that Shay Given will not be fit enough to start Sunday's Euro 2012 Group C opener against Croatia in Poznan -- even though he may not be able to train at the Irish team's Gdynia base today.

Given is suspected to have collected a fresh calf strain to add to his existing calf problem, knee issues and toe blisters that have combined to restrict the Donegal man to just 45 minutes of action in three weeks.

But Ireland goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly has insisted that Given (pictured) will be fine to play, though he conceded that his ongoing injury concerns may have to be monitored on a daily basis.

"Playing in the game on Monday against Hungary and making those saves, he's been no different than normal really," said a bullish Kelly.

"It's all about getting ready for the game on Sunday. You talk of experience. When you ask the question, think about the body of experience behind him. He knows his own mind and own body. You've got to trust someone who has all that experience and who has performed for so long at that high level."

Given's trust in the management may also be an issue, particularly after the confusion surrounding understudy Keiren Westwood's hurried introduction as a replacement for the 36-year-old in last Monday's scoreless friendly with Hungary.

"It was always the decision to take Shay off at half-time," Kelly demurred. You'd have to ask Keiren why he wasn't ready. He was told the day before. The decision will be made in the morning whether Shay will train or not. That's the structure it's been all the way through.

"You mightn't think so, but it's judged on a daily basis. He might say I'm not right, a little stiff. So he does a certain amount and then stops. So, that will continue to be judged on a daily basis. Shay is desperate to play on Sunday. I don't think wild horses would keep him from being on that pitch. Once you go over the white line, you are fit and you have put yourself forward. In terms of his integrity and honesty, Shay wouldn't do that if it meant it would in any way impair his performance."

Should Given fail to prove his fitness, Kelly declared that he had the utmost faith in Westwood to fill what would be a massive void.

Irish Independent

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