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Dublin: 9°C Friday 7 May 2021

Keane resumes full training, King hopeful he’ll be available for Kazakh clash

The interim boss refused to confirm that John O’Shea and Richard Dunne would return.

Noel King is hopeful that Robbie Keane will be available for Ireland's final World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan.
Noel King is hopeful that Robbie Keane will be available for Ireland's final World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Updated at 18.16

IRELAND HAVE BEEN handed a boost as Robbie Keane resumed full training at the team’s base in Malahide this afternoon.

The LA Galaxy striker missed last Friday’s match with Germany through injury, as the team slumped to a 3-0 loss.

Ireland interim manager Noel King had previously indicated that Keane was set to miss training today, but he expressed hope that the striker would be fit for the side’s upcoming clash with Kazakhstan.

“Robbie is still recovering,” he said. “I don’t think he’ll train today but hopefully tomorrow he’ll do a full session. I’m hoping he’s fit [for the Kazakhstan game].”

King said there were no other injury worries ahead of their final World Cup qualifier, but explained that certain players were feeling the effects of last Friday’s arduous encounter with Germany.

“We’ll do a little bit of training this afternoon. There’s a few tired legs, a few tired bodies, tired minds. And there’s a few anxious and fit-as-a-fiddle players as well.

“I think everyone’s very good. The spirit’s good in the group. They’re obviously disappointed with the result against Germany but I think they’re realistic. I’m happy with the endeavour and skill that was applied.”

King also refused to confirm whether or not John O’Shea and Richard Dunne would play, with the duo now available following their suspension for the Germany fixture.

He again focused on the positives with regards last Friday’s game with Germany.

“I was happy with our defensive shape. To be be able to spring and counter against a top team in the world was magnificent and I don’t think the boys got credit for that. We would have gotten credit had we scored but to create chances is all we can keep doing.”

King promised that he would doing his homework on Kazakhstan, Ireland’s upcoming opponents, and said the plan was not necessarily to go all-out attack.

“Obviously we like to attack as much as we can,” he explained. “But the nature of the game is we also have to defend and defend well in these games.

“It’d be lovely [to finish on a high]. These players know they’ve acquitted themselves well against a top side. They just have to repeat that.”

The coach also reiterated that at this stage of the campaign, the performance is just as important as the outcome.

“I’ve no issue with results. What I’m looking for is — can we dominate the game? Can we create chances? Can we score chances? Can we ensure clean sheets?”

The 57-year-old was also unwilling to say whether in-form Andy Reid would be given a chance against Germany.

“We said it’d be two different games, but I’m reluctant at this stage to go into the first XI.

“There’s likely to be change. It won’t be enforced because of bad performances as from my book, we were great. It was a traditional Irish battling performance and had good football going forward.

“Changes will be made from the aspect of being at home, maybe having more possession and how to best handle that.

“There are a lot of skilful players who are dying to get on. I’d love to play them all, but you can’t do that.”

King also played down concerns about the number of young players coming through the Irish system.

“There are players in the under-21s and lower who are going to be full international players,” he said.

“There’s no question about that. And maybe one or two that I might have brought into the squad in different circumstances.

“Kazakhstan and Ireland are not that dissimilar. So we have to make sure that, when we play these teams, we have a plan that can get us success.”

He also admitted he found the experience of managing Ireland somewhat “daunting,” but added that “I wouldn’t trade the Germany experience for anything.

“I don’t mind debate. ‘Why didn’t you bring on this player? Why didn’t you bring on that player?’ I don’t take offence by that. I love it.”

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