Tuesday 24 April 2018

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Keane and Dunne insist they will be fit but Trap's defensive crisis worsens

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Richard Dunne and Robbie Keane have declared themselves fully fit to lead a patched-up Ireland side through tomorrow's Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia.

Giovanni Trapattoni has been forced to contend with a raft of injury problems for the Aviva Stadium encounter, with a Sean St Ledger knee injury scare further complicating his preparations.

However, a plus for the Ireland manager has been the way in which senior stars Dunne and Keane (right) have come through training this week, despite a chequered spell at club level for the Tallaght men.

"The shoulder won't stop me from playing. It's grand after training," said Dunne after coming through proceedings at Gannon Park unscathed.

And skipper Keane, who has been restricted to just 22 minutes of first-team football since the end of January, has shrugged off concerns that his lack of match practice will be an issue.

"Absolutely, I will be fine to play," he said. "The calf is not a problem."

Seamus Coleman is out of the game though. The Everton starlet has been troubled by an ankle problem this week. He did participate in Wednesday's session, but it didn't quite go to plan.

The Donegal youngster was set to start on the bench anyway, with Kevin Foley favoured at right-back and Aiden McGeady and Damien Duff raiding the flanks.

Duff joined in with the rest of the squad yesterday after sitting out the previous two days as a precaution due to an inflamed Achilles.

St Ledger's situation presents Trapattoni with a dilemma. He paired Darren O'Dea with Dunne in training, with veteran Kevin Kilbane deployed at left-back. Aston Villa's Ciaran Clark had been vying with Kilbane for that role, and could also deputise at centre-half beside clubmate Dunne.

The Irish camp are willing to give St Ledger every chance though, and might delay a final decision until closer to kick-off. Preston defender St Ledger picked up his injury after a coming together with Clark in training on Tuesday.

'Just great to be here' -- James McCarthy

'The new kid in town' -- Ciaran Clarke

Irish Independent

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