Sport Soccer

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Sammon set to fill Keane void

Derby striker in line to replace injured skipper despite Doyle’s recall to squad

Kevin Doyle has been called into the squad to provide cover.
Kevin Doyle has been called into the squad to provide cover.
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

CONOR SAMMON has emerged as Giovanni Trapattoni's front runner to deputise for Robbie Keane after the Irish captain was ruled out of the must-win World Cup showdown with Austria.

Keane picked up a calf strain in Friday's hard-earned draw in Sweden with a scan yesterday revealing that the damage is enough to rule him out of tomorrow's crucial encounter with another play-off contender.

Kevin Doyle, who last week expressed unhappiness at being cut from the provisional panel via text message, has been called into the squad to provide cover after speaking to the Italian.

However, barring an overnight change of heart, he's likely to be on the bench at Lansdowne Road alongside Wes Hoolahan who replaced Keane for the final 15 minutes in Stockholm.

Speaking after training , Trapattoni appeared relatively relaxed about Keane's injury, suggesting the LA Galaxy star would recover. When the issue of a possible replacement cropped up, he gave positive mention to Sammon, who made his competitive debut from the bench on Friday, while also referencing Simon Cox who has stood in for Keane in the past.

"We would have to change, and put Sammon or Cox with (Shane) Long," said the Ireland boss, before then making a stronger statement with regard to the Derby newcomer. "Sammon is picked with Long, Sammon is to be with Long."

Jon Walters is another forward option, but he is troubled by a back problem that could prevent him from taking up the right wing berth which he filled in the first part of this double-header, with Robbie Brady on standby. Hoolahan impressed in his brief cameo, but Trapattoni has previously stated a preference for starting home matches with two natural strikers, partnering Sammon and Long in last month's friendly win over Poland before introducing Hoolahan in the second half.

Trapattoni confirmed that the returning Glenn Whelan will partner James McCarthy in central midfield with Paul Green dropping out. Ciaran Clark sat out training with a minor groin problem but he should return to training today, which has been moved to Lansdowne Road.

Irish Independent

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