THE IRISH MANAGEMENT team remain “hopeful” rather than confident that Ireland captain Robbie Keane will make an appearance in Tuesday’s final Group B clash against Armenia at the Aviva Stadium.
The Republic of Ireland need to secure at least a draw against their opponents to secure a play-off spot ahead of next summer’s European Championships but those odds will take a dip if the squad’s top goalscorer is ruled out because of injury.
Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni confirmed the problem on Saturday, adding that the striker was a “strong doubt” for the fixture.
The LA Galaxy man did not train on Sunday – having sent nearly eight hours trying to get back to Dublin with the rest of the team on Friday night following the trek to Andorra – and assistant manager Marco Tardelli has since said that there is only a small possibility the former Tottenham man will be fit.
“Robbie has a little problem but we are hopeful he will recover,” the Italian told reporters. “It’s the same problem he had after the last match in Los Angeles.
“There is very little possibility that he will recover, but we are hopeful… and we will wait for him.”
West Brom duo Shane Long and Simon Cox as well as Stoke front man Jonathan Walters are all options to deputise for Keane and start alongside Kevin Doyle but Tardelli gave little away, concluding:
“We are confident in all our players. We have different solutions but we will wait and see.”
Richard Dunne will be available for selection having served his one-match ban; Stephen Ward, however, will miss out having picked up his second yellow card of the campaign on Friday night.