Robbie Keane out of Ireland’s friendly with Slovakia as knee injury persists

Robbie Keane

Robbie Keane has been ruled out of the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 warm-up match at home to Slovakia on Tuesday, with Martin O’Neill suggesting the long-haul flight his captain took from Los Angeles last weekend had not helped the striker’s knee injury.

Keane played 90 minutes for LA Galaxy last Saturday, scoring a late penalty in the 3-1 home win over San Jose Earthquakes and he took a bang to the knee during the game. The 35-year-old did not consider it to be too serious and certainly not something that would keep him out of action.

But, having flown to Dublin, Keane was unable to train or play in Friday’s 1-0 win over Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium. O’Neill has ruled him out of the Slovakia match and, with the European Championship looming in June, it was easy to detect a little bit of concern, although O’Neill sought to be reassuring. “I don’t want to be scaremongering,” he said. “Robbie comes here and generally after a day’s flight, he’s OK.

“He’s as good a trainer as anybody and he’s as enthusiastic as anyone. He stayed out of the training here and the little problem with the knee didn’t seem to be getting any better.

“I think that he feels that this is not a long-term thing. He’s just slightly concerned that he thought he would be over it, because then he had the flight as well. It’s a long flight, he just stepped off the game, had the big flight and maybe that didn’t give it a chance to settle. But he’s our captain, he’s our best goalscorer and he’s also excellent around about the place.”

Keane is no longer an automatic selection but Ireland’s most-capped player (143) and top goalscorer (67) would be a key part of the squad for the finals.

Daryl Murphy suffered a calf injury during the Switzerland game while Kevin Doyle to a deep cut on the lower leg and, although Jon Walters is fit again after a hamstring problem, O’Neill will consider calling up another striker. “I will have a look at that,” he said. “I don’t think that Robbie is going to make it for Tuesday and Murph will be out. Jon is coming in and he will start.”

O’Neill, who will make “quite a number of changes” for Slovakia, said that James McClean would start. The West Bromwich Albion player came off the bench for Shane Long up front against Switzerland. O’Neill suggested that Long would feature as a substitute and that he would not start the central defenders Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy, after they played the whole game against the Swiss.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by David Hytner, for The Observer on Saturday 26th March 2016 22.30 Europe/London

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