Martin O'Neill has issued concerns with regards the long-haul flights that Robbie Keane is undertaking, as he believes that the extensive travelling could be impinging Keane's recovery from injury.
The Irish captain is currently nursing a knee problem which has left him virtually sidelined from international duty since last September. He was also dispatched from the bench in Ireland's Euro group defeat to Poland but with his normal starting spot no longer an assured prospect, Keane is under pressure to prove himself before departing for France in the summer.
The former Premier League player missed out on the team's victorious warm-up game against Switzerland on Friday night. And will also be absent from selection for their second friendly next Tuesday when Ireland host Slovakia in the Aviva Stadium. This leaves him with just one guaranteed warm-up fixture against Holland in May before the 23-man squad is finalised.
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And Martin O'Neill is worried that flights from LA, where Keane plies his club trade now, could be contributing to his delayed return.
"Robbie stayed out of the training this week because the little problem with the knee didn't seem to be getting any better.''
"I think that he feels that this is not a long-term thing but he was just slightly concerned because he thought he was over it. Of course, then he had the flight as well. It's a long flight, he's just stepped off the plane and maybe that didn't give it a chance to settle. I don't want to be scaremongering. Robbie comes in generally after a day's flight. He's as good a trainer and as enthusiastic as anybody. He is our captain, our best goalscorer and is good around the place."
O'Neill is dealing with an injury afflicted attack in the Irish squad at the moment. Keane, along with Jonathon Walters and Daryl Murphy were already ruled out of the tie on Tuesday but after Kevin Doyle suffered a severe leg wound on Friday night, Shane Long is the last remaining striker at O'Neill's disposal.