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Monday 16 October 2017

Door open for Given

Doyle injury adds to striker woe for O'Neill ahead of Slovakia tie

Kevin Doyle reacts after picking up an injury during the first half of the international against Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium. Pic: Sportsfile
Kevin Doyle reacts after picking up an injury during the first half of the international against Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium. Pic: Sportsfile

The door to Euro 2016 could open up for Shay Given on the back of Jack Butland's injury woe with England - but only if the Ireland veteran can make a rapid recovery from his own injury woes.

The centre-forward position is the big concern for Ireland boss Martin O'Neill ahead of tomorrow's friendly at home to Slovakia, with just one recognised striker - Shane Long - available.

Jonathan Walters and Daryl Murphy have returned to their clubs for treatment while Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle have left the squad and are not available for tomorrow's clash. Winger Anthony Pilkington has been playing in a forward role for Cardiff City in recent months and he is an option for O'Neill, though Pilkington has also been battling with injury and wasn't on the bench for Friday's win over Switzerland. As of last night, O'Neill had opted not to call in a back-up striker like Anthony Stokes, Simon Cox or Leon Best.

Doyle was Ireland's only injury casualty from Friday but England 'keeper Jack Butland suffered ankle ligament damage in their win over Germany, and now faces a spell on the sidelines.

His absence will put the focus back on Given, who is still not match fit following surgery last year. If Given makes himself available to Stoke's first team squad this week, he can challenge their current back-up keeper, the inexperienced Jakob Haugaard.

Given's club-mate Jon Walters last week revealed that Given was close to recovery."He's been training the past two weeks, and will step it up in the next couple of weeks," Walters said.

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