Euro 2016

Jon Walters & Robbie Keane sit out training

Robbie Keane indulged in some hurling on Thursday and the Ireland skipper is certain he will be fit for the second Group E game at the latest
Picture by PA
Andy Watters

REPUBLIC of Ireland striker Jonathan Walters had to sit out training on Thursday after taking a blow to his calf on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old Stoke City frontman did not train with his team-mates at Fota Island, but went off to work in the gym with the physios and the initial indications are his injury won’t threaten his input into Euro 2016.

There was better news for Everton midfielder James McCarthy, who was able to join in with ball-work after shaking off his hamstring problem. McCarthy had worked alone after completing the warm-up ahead of Wednesday morning’s session, but stayed with the rest of the squad on Thursday as he stepped up his recovery.

Skipper Robbie Keane was also out on the training pitch, but only as an observer and the LA Galaxy frontman admitted he feared the worst when he suffered a calf injury on the eve of the France finals.

The Ireland skipper missed the warm-up games against Holland and Belarus and is not expected to resume training until the middle of next week at the earliest after damaging the muscle last Saturday.

But he is confident that, if he does not make the opening game against Sweden in Paris on June 13, he will definitely be fit for the clash with Belgium in Bordeaux five days later.

The 35-year-old striker said: “Listen, it’s never nice when you get injured, but certainly at this stage because of the European Championship. But luckily for me, it's not as bad as I first thought.

“I thought it was going to be a lot longer. They are saying a couple of weeks, which would obviously get me [fit] for the Sweden game or maybe, if I miss that one, I’ll definitely be ready for the second game. So it's bad news, but it could have been a lot worse.”

The squad will head back to Dublin after training on Friday and, after a weekend off, they reunite on Sunday night before flying to France on Wednesday. Under Martin O’Neill, preparations appear to have been more relaxed than four years ago, when then manager Giovanni Trapattoni had his players in camp in Dublin and Montecatini before a final warm-up game in Hungary on the way to Poland.

Keane said: “When you are away from your family and you are with the team for a long period of time, sometimes it can be frustrating, it can get boring if players are not playing.

“But one thing I would say about this group is we have some team spirit that keeps the lads together and I think that will stand us in good stead going forward. It’s certainly something that I'm looking forward to. I’ve been involved in a couple before, but there seems a great togetherness between everybody, not just the players, but the coaching staff, the backroom staff and everybody.

“People underestimate that. Certainly from the outside, they think it's about the players and they only see the players who are on the field and the players who are on the bench that get involved.

“But it’s way bigger than that, it’s about everybody that’s involved because everybody keeps everybody together and we are very, very lucky with that.”

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Euro 2016