Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland landed in Macedonia on Thursday night with a major injury worry accompanying captain Robbie Keane on the trip East.
Keane picked up a groin injury after a clash with defender Damien Delaney on the training ground in Malahide before the team’s flight from Dublin.
The Irish skipper expects to play against Macedonia in the big European Championship qualifier on Saturday night but his fitness is a concern for Trapattoni.
Damien Duff, Richard Dunne and Kevin Doyle are already injured from Trapattoni’s regular starting team and Sean St Ledger is unlikely to play so Keane’s fitness will be vital for Ireland.
Coach Marco Tardelli confirmed the injury but he expects his captain to be available for the Group B game.
“We have a little problem with Robbie Keane after 15 minutes of the training session,” said Tardelli.
“I think he will good for the match. At this moment we can say nothing. The other players are fit and we have many choices.”
Tardelli confirmed that Darren O’Dea is more than likely to partner John O’Shea at the centre of the defence with St Ledger set to start on the bench after his knee injury.
West Brom striker Simon Cox is also a shock choice to partner Keane at the expense of Shane Long judging by the way the players lined up in training on Thursday.
Ireland skipper Robbie KeaneGoogle Images