Sunday 17 December 2017

Grieving Robbie Keane may not feature against Scotland

Brothers Alan, left, and Steve Harris are cousins of Irish footballer Robbie Keane
Brothers Alan, left, and Steve Harris are cousins of Irish footballer Robbie Keane

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill will leave record scorer Robbie Keane to decide if he is mentally ready to play in Saturday's Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland after his family suffered a second tragedy.

The 34-year-old, whose cousin Alan Harris died on Wednesday after being overcome by toxic fumes while working in a sewer in Portmarnock, learned on Friday morning that Alan's brother Stephen, who was left fighting for his life after the incident, had lost his own battle.

Keane trained, but did not attend the Republic's pre-match press conference at Dublin Airport, and O'Neill revealed he had been deeply affected by the news.

The manager said: "It was obviously very bad news this morning, so he's not feeling great, I must admit. Obviously he feels for the family and he is quite down at the moment.

"I'm hoping that he'll come round, but if he feels he wants to participate in the game tomorrow, it will be entirely his decision.

"I don't think you could ever question his professionalism, it's how he's feeling within himself, really, as much as anything else.

"But as I say, it was obviously bad news this morning. He's not great."

Defender John O'Shea, who stood in for Keane, expressed the players' support for the LA Galaxy frontman and his family.

O'Shea said: "Ah look, it's one of those things. As the manager said, it's very sad news and I echo the sentiments of the manager. Our thoughts are with the family.

"But look, there's obviously a good morale around him. We will look after Robbie, and if he needs whatever support, it will be there for him.

"He's a very good professional, but obviously sometimes football does take a back step when something like that happens."

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