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Trapattoni expects Keane to be fit

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is confident skipper Robbie Keane will be fit to lead his country into Euro 2012 battle with Macedonia on Saturday.

The 30-year-old, who has scored 45 goals in 104 senior appearances for Ireland, has managed just a few minutes as a substitute in West Ham's FA Cup quarter-final defeat by Stoke since returning from a four-game lay-off with a calf injury.

However, he met up with the Ireland squad in Dublin on Monday night and trained on Tuesday, and Trapattoni will have no qualms about throwing one of his most experienced campaigners straight back into the starting line-up. The Italian said: "I am confident about Robbie. He can start the game and maybe after 60 minutes, we can look at other options."

He added: "But we need experience in this game. We have to rely on pride and experience in this game. I saw Robbie in training and I am very confident of getting a good result."

Trapattoni is also hopeful that Richard Dunne, who was due to join up with the squad on Tuesday afternoon, will be able to take his place in the heart of the Irish defence.

The 31-year-old stayed at Aston Villa for a further day of physio as he continues his recovery from a shoulder injury amid speculation over his future at the club following a much-publicised outburst during a bonding session.

Whatever his status at Villa Park, Dunne remains a key member of the Ireland team and, with John O'Shea having withdrawn from the squad with a hamstring injury, his presence is vital. Trapattoni said: "The Villa physio said it would be better to stay one more day."

Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson will be a late arrival too - he is due to fly in on Wednesday - as he continues treatment for a toe injury, while Stoke striker Jon Walters will not join up until Thursday, but for very different reasons as his wife prepares to give birth.

In addition, the absence of vastly-experienced keeper Shay Given, who is recovering from a recurrence of his shoulder problem, means there will be a first competitive appearance for Coventry's Keiren Westwood.

With O'Shea and Keith Andrews, who has a groin injury, having pulled out of the initial squad of 29, that meant 24 men met up on Monday night, and several of them were carrying knocks.


From Belfast Telegraph