Thursday 14 December 2017

McCarthy is fit but Arter struggling

James McCarthy. Pic: PA
James McCarthy. Pic: PA

Roy Keane believes that James McCarthy will be ready for action against Georgia at the Aviva, the first bit of good news from the Ireland camp so far this week. But Keane has all but ruled Harry Arter out of both World Cup qualifiers.

"The feedback from club level on Harry's scan is that it's all good news but, again, from the player he feels a tightness and if you don't train two days before a game you're hardly likely to be involved," said Keane.

"With the travel involved and it's a tight hamstring, it's a quick turnaround after Thursday so part of my mind-set at the moment would be we're ruling him out, but with a quick recovery in the next few days, who knows?

Keane is much more upbeat about McCarthy who is making rapid progress after an operation.

"I'd like to think he'd be available for Thursday. Obviously, we've been getting medical feedback from the club doctor and our own doctor but the most important feedback I always look for is from the player.

"He seems really upbeat and actually looked quite sharp in training, which you can get sometimes when a player is coming back. He looked pretty sharp, I have to say," added the Ireland No 2.

"There's disappointment about people like Daryl Murphy, Westwood and one or two others. Harry Arter, lads who played at the weekend and then aren't available.

"There's that element to when we turn up. You get some good news and bad news. So the James one is certainly positive."

Keane was at pains to point out that Ireland are facing a tough assignment against Georgia and that Moldova is not even on the radar yet.

"Our focus is on one game, it really is. We can't take our eye off the ball with this one. I think we're in a for a very tough game," said Keane.

"One of the media lads mentioned - I think it was really insulting to Georgia - that we're playing maybe a lesser team in the group. Which is ridiculous.

"We know from our past experience how tough the game is going to be.

"But we're at home. Our home form is decent. We're in a better place, maybe, than before the Serbia game. I think a lot of factors went into that game.

"I think a lot of our lads have played a lot more football. Lads who were carrying knocks have got a few games under their belts. I think we'll be physically stronger than maybe we were in the last game.

"Every time I've watched Georgia, from our last experience and their last game against Austria, they're game and they're up for a battle.

"They have been unlucky. They have lost so many games by the odd goal, it must be very frustrating for them but that will turn for them, but hopefully after Thursday."

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