WITH TWO DAYS of training in Malahide behind them, Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni will be pleased with the progress which his squad is making ahead of Saturday evening’s crunch tie against Macedonia.
The Italian received a big boost yesterday when influential centre-half Richard Dunne came through a full training session without any difficulties.
Dunne had initially been expected to miss Saturday’s game after he picked up a shoulder injury while playing for Aston Villa at the beginning of the month. However, his recovery has been speedier than anticipated and he is now likely to line out at the centre of the Irish defence.
Partnering him in the Irish back four will most likely be Sean St. Ledger. Though the 26-year-old was forced to sit out yesterday’s session after picking up a minor knock on Tuesday afternoon, he was rested more as a precautionary measure and is expected to be fully fit by the weekend.
Trapattoni will also be boosted by the news from his medical staff that Damien Duff should make a speedy recovery from his latest minor setback. The Fulham winger could only take part in a limited workout yesterday after he suffering an inflammation of his Achilles tendon.
One key player whose fitness is still the topic of some speculation is striker Robbie Keane. Though the West Ham man has been out of action since damaging a calf muscle at the beginning of February, comments made by assistant manager Marco Tardelli yesterday indicate that Keane is match fit and could well play the full 90 minutes on Saturday.
Robbie Keane has been out of action for many days after the injury, but I have found him fit.
There has been a smile on his face and he is in good form. I think it is possible for Robbie to play. He is fit to play a full match.