Keane to make Scotland call

Date published: Friday 12th June 2015 2:26

Antonio Conte: Manager impressed by display

The Republic of Ireland captain’s cousin Stephen Harris died on Friday morning, two days after the work accident that killed his brother Alan and left him fighting for life.

Keane did train with the Ireland squad on the eve of the European Qualifier but did not attend the pre-match press conference with manager Martin O’Neill.

“It was obviously very bad news this morning,” O’Neill said on Friday. “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.”

John O’Shea fulfilled Keane’s press duties and 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.”

O’Neill’s other major selection concern is winger Aiden McGeady, who sat out training on Friday as a precaution.

“He’s a bit sore from a few things that he was doing,” the manager said. “We’ll see how he is.

“If he feels that he is ready to go and start a game, that’s something that we would look at, obviously. If he feels he can participate in some of the match, again because he has been a very important player for us in this qualifying campaign, I’ll give him as much time as he needs.”

James McClean, described by O’Neill as “a great character”, is a possible replacement for McGeady as Ireland chase a first win in four qualifiers.

Two of the past three have been drawn, while Scotland won in Glasgow thanks to a late Shaun Maloney goal.

Asked if his side’s campaign had stalled, O’Neill said: “We were beaten by Scotland with a goal scored in the 75th minute and we drew with Poland, and the game before that we drew with Germany in Germany.

“They are world champions and they had won that about three months earlier, and we had won the first two games, one of which was away from home. Do you know, I’m not so sure it’s been a real stalling.”

Watch Republic of Ireland v Scotland live on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 5 from 4pm on Saturday.

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