Sports Digest - Good and bad as Ireland’s game against Estonia looms
Sunderland defender John O’Shea is a serious doubt for the game
Giovanni Trapattoni has been hit with good news and bad news on the injury front as he prepares for the Euro 2012 playoffs against Estonia.
Captain Robbie Keane is ready to fire Ireland to the European Championship finals after making his comeback with the LA Galaxy in New York on Sunday night.
But Sunderland defender John O’Shea is a serious doubt for the game with a hamstring strain and Shane Long is all but ruled out with a knee injury.
“I am very confident about Robbie, I will speak to him when he arrives in Dublin next weekend and see how he is,” said Trapattoni after Keane returned following his adductor injury.
Waterford-born O’Shea, however, suffered a recurrence of an old hamstring injury in his club’s Premier League draw with Aston Villa on Saturday, and club boss Steve Bruce isn’t confident about his international hopes.
“It is not looking good for John with the injury for those two big Ireland games,” said Bruce. “It is the same injury he had before and I would have to say that he is doubtful for the Ireland games.”
Leeds United defender Darren O’Dea is another concern for the away leg in Estonia on Friday, November 11 after he was concussed during his team’s championship draw with Cardiff on Sunday.
Trapattoni will also allow Shane Long to make a final call on his fitness after the West Brom doctors claimed he will miss the Euro 2012 playoffs with a knee injury.
“Shane will talk to our own doctors this week, he is optimistic but it will depend on the medical staff,” insisted Trapattoni.
Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given, meanwhile, believes a repeat prescription can end his 10-year itch on his return to Tallinn.
The clocks have just gone back an hour as far as winter time in Ireland is concerned, but they will go back a decade for Irish football in Estonia.
No Ireland team has qualified for a major finals since Given tasted a 2-0 win in the same Tallinn stadium en route to the 2002 World Cup finals.
“Any of us who played in that game didn’t think then that we would be going back there 10 years later looking to qualify for our next finals,” admitted the Donegal ‘keeper with 118 caps to his name.
“No Irish team has been to the European Championships at all since Jack Charlton got us to Germany in 1988 so we have a few scores to settle against Estonia.
“It’s important that we are aware of all of that but it is also vital that we accept the challenge available to us in these two games.”
Still reticent to discuss his own future at this level, Given is adamant there will be time enough for all of that after the second leg of the playoffs at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, November 15.
“These two games are too big in their own right to be worrying about my future,” he said.
“I said before the match against Armenia last time that I wouldn’t even talk about it then and it is the same now.
“I am concentrated only on winning these two games. We won 2-0 against them twice in those World Cup qualifiers the last time as I remember it and I would gladly take the same results again.
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