Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane and midfielder Anthony Pilkington have been ruled out of Friday night’s friendly against Switzerland. Coach Martin O’Neil has vowed to use tomorrows game and Tuesday’s friendly against Slovakia to give fringe players an opportunity in the first team. These latest injures free up more space for O’Neil to tinker with his starting eleven.
Keane picked up a knock playing with LA Galaxy over the weekend and has taken longer than expected to recover from it but will be assessed by the medical staff over the weekend to determine wither he will play on Tuesday. Pilkington has had persistent knee problems and will also be assessed ahead of Tuesday’s friendly. The Irish squad has been hit with a number of injuries this week. Jonathan Walters will play no part against Switzerland but should feature against Slovakia on Tuesday. Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter was ruled out of both upcoming friendlies due to an achilles injury.
Martin O’Neil will give Blackburn defender Shane Duffy and Brentford midfielder Alan Judge a chance in the upcoming games. Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot will also be given his chance between the sticks. The coach was under no illusions as to the difficulty new players face in emerging from the pack to make his squad for the Euros but World Cup qualifying in the Autumn should provide all the necessary encouragement for the youngsters.He said: “Let’s be fair about it: the players who are coming in late here have a bit to do, I must admit, just at this stage here to go and cement something. Everything would probably have to go pretty well for them individually.
“But it’s not impossible and it’s happened before, and that’s why I’d like to open the door for them, to feel as if they have got a chance. And for instance, one or two of them – let’s say they didn’t make it – they know they are right maybe for the World Cup campaign coming up almost immediately.”
O’Neil also confirmed he will name his 23 man squad for this summer’s European Championship in France on May 28th a day after the teams final friendly ahead of the tournament against the Netherlands.
The Republic of Ireland face Switzerland tomorrow night at 7:45pm at the Aviva Stadium.