Belfast Telegraph

Kilbane’s record run of games may come to an end

By Daniel McDonnell

Shay Given was the first Irish veteran to enter this week with back problems, and now Kevin Kilbane has emerged as a doubt for Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier with Slovakia with a similar complaint.

The Derby man, whose position in the starting XI is under serious threat from Stephen Ward, sat out training yesterday after feeling a muscular problem in training on Monday.

Kilbane has started 66 consecutive international games for the Republic of Ireland in a remarkable attendance record stretching back to 1999.

Assistant manager Marco Tardelli indicated that the 34-year-old should be fine, but was non-committal on who would get the nod between the two contenders for the left back role.

He appeared to suggest that Kilbane's experience might give him an edge in Moscow next Tuesday, although it would be slightly surprising if Giovanni Trapattoni rotated a position in his back four for two such crucial encounters.

Given was also nowhere to be seen in Malahide, as he is receiving additional treatment on his ailment. Robbie Keane was also absent due to the logistics of his journey home from the USA.

Tardelli is happy with the captain's move to LA Galaxy, suggesting the relaxed pace of life in the MLS would be better for the Tallaght man at this stage of his career.

Overall, Tardelli is confident that the minor niggles will be cleared up for the weekend.

After a clear enough run in the World Cup tilt, the Republic have suffered with injury and suspension in the attempts to make next summer's European Championships.

Richard Dunne was suspended for June's crucial win in Macedonia, while Given missed the first meeting with the same opposition in Dublin in March.

The key figures in the Republic are now clubmates at Aston Villa, and Dunne understands why precautions are being taken this week with the Donegal man also troubled by a groin issue.

Belfast Telegraph


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