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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 21 January, 2020

O'Neill 'hopeful' on Walters - but fitness call set to be left until last minute

Walters took part in Ireland’s final training session at the Stade de France this evening.

Walters: "He's feeling pretty good," says O'Neill.

– Niall Kelly reports from the Stade de France, Saint-Denis

A DECISION ON Jon Walters’ fitness looks set to be left until the last minute as he races to be ready for Ireland’s Euro 2016 opener against Sweden.

But Martin O’Neill remains hopeful that he will be able to call on his key man for the Group E clash tomorrow evening.

Walters, who scored five crucial goals in qualifying, has been struggling with tendonitis in his Achilles since joining up with the squad.

In a huge boost to Ireland’s preparations, the Stoke man took full part in training on Saturday with no ill effects.

And the signs were positive again on Sunday evening as he took part in the squad’s pre-match session in the Stade de France.

“He’s feeling pretty good,” O’Neill confirmed. “He doesn’t have any reaction at the moment.

He’s feeling fine and I’m hoping he’s available for us.

While O’Neill won’t name his team until shortly before kick-off, he indicated that he has a strong idea of his starting XI provided everyone is fit.

“I don’t think there’s any harm in deliberating on certain things but I’ve a team in mind at the moment.

“With the players coming through, and Robbie and Jon Walters in particular carrying injuries going into the announcement of the 23, I’m very pleased now that they’re coming through. Jon and Robbie haven’t done a great deal but both of them are naturally fit.

“I don’t mind deliberating a little bit still.”

He also addressed the ongoing confusion surrounding Friday’s training session in Versailles.

The session was initially said to be cancelled and the FAI said that the squad did a “short walk” around the stadium in the course of their recovery session.

“We walked through some set pieces,” O’Neill explained. “That’s exactly what we did.

We went for a walk, walked through, and no-one kicked a ball over the course of the time we were there.

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Niall Kelly

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