Sunday, October 9, 2011

Keane a major doubt for Armenia game

Ireland skipper Robbie Keane is being given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of Tuesday night's Euro 2012 showdown with Armenia in Dublin.

The 31-year-old Dublin born striker is a major doubt for the game at the Aviva Stadium which will decide Ireland's Group B fate as they attempt to secure a play-off berth.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni yesterday revealed Keane was to undergo a scan on a sore abductor muscle, and it was later confirmed that his chances of making the game were minimal.

Today it emerged the problem is actually an adductor muscle injury, and while assistant manager Marco Tardelli was refusing to rule the Los Angeles Galaxy frontman out of a fixture in which his country need to avoid defeat to finish second in the group, the chances of him playing appear to be slim.

Tardelli said: "Robbie has a little problem, but we are hopeful he will recover. It will be very difficult, but we are hopeful.

"It's the same problem he had after the last match in Los Angeles.

"Yesterday, he had a scan and he has a little problem - a big problem, not a little problem."

Asked to put a percentage on Keane's chances, Tardelli said: "I don't know. It is better to ask the doctor. There is very little possibility that he will recover, but we are hopeful."

But asked further if he would have been able to play had the game been today amid suggestions he could be sidelined for a fortnight, he added: "No, no, I don't think so."

Keane and his team-mates endured a gruelling trip back from Friday night's 2-0 victory in Andorra, which involved a three-hour coach journey from the Pyrenean principality to Barcelona and then a delayed flight of almost the same length, eventually arriving back in Dublin shortly before 7am yesterday.

Those members of the squad who played at the Estadi Comunal were rested from an open training session at Tallaght Stadium yesterday afternoon, but the bulk of them, Keane excepted, were back in action at a windswept Gannon Park in Malahide this morning.

Among them was Stoke striker Jonathan Walters, who met up with his colleagues on their return after missing the trip to Andorra with an ankle injury.

He and West Brom pair Shane Long and Simon Cox are the leading candidates to partner Kevin Doyle in a new-look front two if Keane does indeed miss out.

All three have impressed for their country in the recent past with Long in particular having established himself as a genuine option for Trapattoni's starting line-up.

However, Tardelli was giving little away today.

He said: "We have many options. We have Walters, Long, Cox - we have many options.

"We are confident in all our players. We have different solutions, but we will wait and see tomorrow."

Richard Dunne will also be available once again after serving a one-match ban in Friday's game, although left-back Stephen Ward will replace him on the sidelines after picking up his second yellow card of the campaign in Andorra.