Robbie Keane has handed Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni a big Euro play-off boost – but John O’Shea is now a major doubt for Estonia.
Less than a month after picking up an adductor muscle injury, Keane started for the LA Galaxy in Sunday night’s 1-0 win away to the New York Red Bulls.
The Irish captain will play in the second leg against the Bulls in Los Angeles on Thursday night then fly home to join up with the Irish squad for the Euro 2012 showdown with Estonia.
Sunderland defender O’Shea is now a major doubt for the games in Tallinn and Dublin however after suffering a recurrence of an old hamstring injury in his club’s Premier League draw with Aston Villa on Saturday.
The Waterford born former Manchester United star was due for a scan on the injury on Monday but 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 us doubtful for the Ireland games.”
Leeds United defender Darren O’Dea is another on the doubtful list for Estonia on Friday week after he was concussed during his team’s Championship draw with Cardiff on Sunday.
Ireland boss Trapattoni will allow Shane Long to make a final call on his fitness after the West Brom doctors claimed he will miss the Euro 2012 play-offs 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.
Meanwhile, Reading defender Alex Pearce has moved a step closer to a return to the Ireland international fold.
Pearce was watched by Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni and assistant Marco Tardelli at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The 22-year-old centre-back played schoolboy football for Ireland but then won two Scottish under 21 caps.
“I want to play for Ireland and I am delighted that Mr Trapattoni knows that now,” said Oxford born Pearce who qualifies under the parentage rule.
Irish coach Marco Tardelli confirmed: “We know that Alex qualifies and we are going to monitor him closely in the coming weeks.”