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Friday 9 December 2016

O'Neill: Robbie's hopeful he'll be OK

Robbie Keane. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Robbie Keane. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Martin O'Neill admits he had some hard calls to make when it came to picking his 23-man squad last night for Euro 2016.

And the Ireland boss, who says he'll monitor the progress in their recovery from injury of Robbie Keane (inset) and James McCarthy, says his "door is open" to any players who have been omitted and feel aggrieved about being left out.

There were no major surprises when the final squad was revealed by the FAI after last night's 2-1 loss to Belarus in Cork.

Keane and McCarthy made it in, despite carrying injury; Shay Given kept his place but David Forde missed out. Injury means that Harry Arter won't go to France but Kevin Doyle, Darron Gibson and David McGoldrick all stay at home.

It was unclear last night if O'Neill had spoken to Doyle, who was not asked to travel from the USA but the boss did speak to the other players individually to break the news.

"That's the way I'd like to have been told rather than told by text or something. It's not easy obviously because someone is going to be disappointed and the minute you have more than 23 in your squad anyway players are going to be left out," O'Neill said.

"David Forde kept us in the game in Germany and we got that great point which was hugely significant in our qualification.

"He's been great around the place as well and that decision was very difficult because he's been excellent.

"Robbie is happy enough and I think there is that ruling that if anyone is out through injury then you can call in replacements. I think that that's the case.

"I believe that that's the case but it's not something that I want to play around with.

"I think that players are coming here . . . and if you do carry one or two players in, at the minute we are carrying Robbie and James McCarthy, we probably can't really afford a third one and that's where Harry might be unfortunate.

"If he is going to be fit in say 10 days and Robbie or James don't make it then he would be one in consideration.

"James did some work yesterday and he's improving which is good news.

"Robbie didn't do any work but we didn't expect him to. Robbie's very very hopeful anyway he'll make it and should be ok. If not for the first game then for the matches after that. But who knows."

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