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James McCarthy gets fitness boost ahead of Euros

Republic of Ireland midfielder James McCarthy is expected to resume training on Monday, just a day before Martin O'Neill finalises his squad for the Euro 2016 finals.

The 25-year-old was unable to train with his team-mates ahead of Friday night's 1-1 friendly draw with Holland because of a thigh problem and his chances of playing in Tuesday night's final warm-up clash with Belarus in Cork look remote as a result.

However, the fact that he is due to return to the fold next week suggests there is no lasting concern over the problem, which had been indicated by a series of scans in recent days, and O'Neill has already revealed he has seen enough of McCarthy to name him in his final 23 even if he does not kick a ball before the Tuesday UEFA deadline.

There was better news too for central defender Ciaran Clark, who also missed out against the Dutch as he continued to nurse an Achilles problem.

Clark took part in a short session on Saturday morning before O'Neill released his players for the weekend until they meet up again in Cork on Sunday evening.

O'Neill has confirmed skipper Robbie Keane will start at Turner's Cross, while fellow striker Daryl Murphy is also likely to feature at some point as the fringe players in the squad get a final chance to catch the manager's eye.

The 64-year-old was initially expected to announce his squad on Saturday, but opted to leave it until the last moment to give every player a chance.

O'Neill said: "There are some players who didn't start last night that I would want to start in the game against Belarus, and again I would just reiterate that if I was getting that opportunity, I think the players overall would be happy with it.

"If they thought that maybe a performance against Belarus might cement their place in the 23, I think they are prepared to do it.

"I know it means disappointment for a few people just immediately afterwards, but I think they are prepared for it."

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