Belfast Telegraph

O’Shea injury latest worry for Republic

By Damian Spellman

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni was today facing a growing injury crisis after defender John O'Shea was ruled out of tomorrow’s tough Euro 2012 qualifier in Russia.

The 30-year-old Sunderland man had to admit defeat in his battle to shake off calf and hip injuries after training in Malahide yesterday morning and was not among the squad which left for Moscow.

O'Shea's withdrawal was confirmed in a statement from the Football Association of Ireland which said: “John was suffering from a calf and hip strain and will return to his club.”

The news came as a fresh blow to Trapattoni, who last week lost Kevin Kilbane and striker Shane Long to back and calf injuries respectively and, with winger Aiden McGeady and frontman Kevin Doyle struggling for full match fitness after lengthy lay-offs, the 72-year-old Italian's problems were mounting as he left Dublin.

Goalkeeper Shay Given underwent a scan on the back strain which has hampered him since he joined up with the squad last weekend, although he was on the plane.

But Trapattoni and his staff were also nursing skipper Robbie Keane and inspirational defender Richard Dunne through the after-effects of their exertions against the Slovakians. Assistant manager Marco Tardelli was putting on a brave face.

He said: “They rested again, but I think for the match, they will be fit. They have a little pain, but that's normal after a tough match.”

Asked specifically about Given's chances, Tardelli said: “I don't know. He is with the doctors having a scan, but I expect him to play if he can.”

In Keiren Westwood, Trapattoni at least has an able deputy for Given and the Sunderland keeper did not let his country down when he stood in for the 35-year-old when he was sidelined by a shoulder injury last season.

However, O'Shea's absence has robbed the manager of one of his options at the heart of a defence which has not conceded a single goal in its last six outings.

Leeds' on-loan Celtic defender Darren O'Dea is a tailor-made replacement for the suspended Sean St Ledger, but the manager might also have chosen to take advantage of O'Shea's versatility and select either Stephen Kelly or Kevin Foley at full-back.

Trapattoni's decision is now perhaps more straightforward, although Tardelli was giving little away.

He said: “We have another two days to decide. We will train and afterwards we will decide.”

Ireland head into the game knowing defeat is simply not an option if they are to keep alive their hopes of automatic qualification from Group B with Russia having established a two-point lead over them as a result of their 1-0 victory over Macedonia on Friday.

However, while the Republic's performance in a disappointing 0-0 with Slovakia has been widely criticised, Tardelli insisted the spirit and belief within the camp remain intact.

He said: “We played against a very tough team — their world ranking is 10 places before us and they are in the same position as us in the table.

“The result was not very, very good for us, but we played in the second half very well, we missed three or four good opportunities and I think it is possible to go to Russia and play to win.”

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