Belfast Telegraph

Ankle injury set to rule out Robbie Keane from Noel King's first Republic side

By Ian Parkes

Republic of Ireland skipper Robbie Keane is a major doubt for tonight's World Cup qualifier in Germany.

The 33-year-old did not train at the Rhein Energie Stadion last night because of an ankle injury picked up in Malahide on Tuesday, and interim manager Noel King will make a late decision on him.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference in Cologne, King said: "He got a little kick on it. It's something that comes and goes with him over the last number of months and he got a little kick on it, so it's a worry.

"When he wakes up in the morning, we will get at it straight away."

However, the LA Galaxy frontman will remain with the squad and if he does not make it tonight, the hope is that he will be fit to face Kazakhstan in Dublin on Tuesday night.

King said: "He is healing, and that's the process, so he's being tended to and we are hoping he will be ready for tomorrow; if he doesn't make tomorrow, we are hoping he will be ready for the next game.

"There's no question of going home or anything like that. He's still in squad."

King confirmed that Keane, the Republic's record scorer with 60 goals, would start if he was fit, although all the indications are that he is struggling.

Galaxy boss Bruce Arena this week had a request to release his player after the Germany game politely rejected, but asked if Keane would have a painkilling injection in a bid to play, the stand-in boss insisted that would not be down to him.

He said: "That would be a medical situation, that would be for [medical director] Alan Byrne, himself and his club. We wouldn't do anything without talking to the Galaxy. They know about the situation, so that would be pretty much out of my hands."

If Keane does miss out, Anthony Stokes, Shane Long or Kevin Doyle would likely fill the void, although the manager admitted the 129-times-capped frontman would be a big loss.

He said: "Robbie been one of our leading lights over the years, he's the leading scorer, one of the leading scorers in Europe. If he doesn't make it, we wouldn't be happy about that, that's for sure.

"But we would get on with it. There's nothing we can do about it. If he goes, he goes and the person who comes in will be delighted with the opportunity and delighted with the cap."

King was giving little away about his team selection, although Damien Delaney's presence at the press conference – Keane would normally have accompanied the manager as captain – suggested he will occupy one of the central defensive berths left vacant by the suspended Richard Dunne and John O'Shea.

Giovanni Trapattoni without fail named his team the day before a game, but King had no intention of following suit despite admitting he was close to being certain how his side would line up.

He said: "I have fair idea. I probably have about 10 right and I am just working on in my own mind. Then obviously with Robbie's situation, we will have to see how that pans out as well.

"I don't have to name it now, so now why should I? It's an extra day for us, a bit more knowledge and we will see.

"They [the players] will know first, they will definitely know first. They will know in the morning."

The Republic cannot qualify for next summer's finals in Brazil, while Germany would book their ticket should they claim three points to go with those won in Dublin after October's 6-1 rout.

German midfielder Sami Khedira has urged his team-mates to hit the Republic with an early blitz to make the result a formality, but King insisted his team would be prepared for that.

He said: "I don't think we need him to tell us that. We are aware of the onslaught we may face at the start and at any time during the game, so we need to be fully concentrated for the 93, 94 minutes that we play, so that wouldn't change our view."

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