Shane Long is on standby to shoot Ireland to the European Championship play-offs on Tuesday night.
The West Brom striker is set to replace the injured Robbie Keane in the Aviva Stadium showdown with Armenia.
Scan results on an abductor muscle have left manager Giovanni Trapattoni sweating over his captain.
“Following the medical update, Robbie is now a strong doubt for the game on Tuesday,” confirmed Trapattoni.
The Italian has also vowed to put the smile back on Irish faces by going for the jugular against Armenia.
Ireland’s Rugby World Cup bid was all but over the time Trap’s jaded squad arrived back into Ireland after an overnight jaunt from Andorra early Saturday morning.
The Irish football boss has offered his sympathy to ‘my friend’ Brian O’Driscoll and vowed to give disappointed fans something to shout about when his team chase a play-off spot against the Armenians.
“I am very sorry that Ireland lost to Wales in the rugby because Brian O’Driscoll is our friend,” said Trapattoni.
“But sport is sport. It teaches us that every result is possible when you have the right mentality.
“Our job is like that. We deserve to achieve a minimum of the play-off and
I think we can achieve this.”
Trapattonihas vowed to go for all three points on Tuesday even though a draw will do Ireland.
“I already said we don’t think about the draw and I repeat that,” said Trapattoni as Richard Dunne returned to the squad after missing the Andorra win through suspension.
“We must play with 100 per cent mentality, 100 per cent attitude and watch out for the silly mistake.
“I was angry with the players at half-time in Andorra. I told them I thought we under-estimated the opponent.
“I never allow that. We must always go on the pitch thinking we are Manchester United. That is how we achieve the results.”
The Italian has also urged his Irish players to follow his winning mentality and trust his track record in the biggest football game yet at the new Aviva.
He concluded: “I am not presumptuous or arrogant but it was impossible to achieve many results on my own. It was the players, not Trapattoni.
“But why did I achieve the results at Milan, Inter, Benfica, Juventus? Why? There is the team, there is the players but the players follow me. That is what we must do.”
John O’Shea looks certain to move to left-back in place of the suspended Stephen Ward on Tuesday night.
Stoke striker Jonathon Walters had joined the squad today after receiving treatment at his club and will also come into the reckoning if Keane doesn’t make the big game.
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