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Injuries take toll on O’Neill’s Ireland ahead of friendly against Poland

robbie keane nov 18-n
Robbie Keane will not feature for Ireland against Poland this evening

Poland v Republic of Ireland

Municipal Stadium, Poland

Kick-off: 19:45 GMT

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Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has lost several players to injury ahead of tonight’s international friendly against Poland, his second game in charge.

Captain Robbie Keane will not be starting the game in Poznan due to a recurring Achilles problem that may require surgery, however, he travelled to Poland with his team.

Despite scoring his 62nd senior international goal in Ireland’s 3-0 win over Latvia on Friday, O’Neill stated in last night’s pre-match press conference that the LA Galaxy frontman will not be featuring in tonight’s line-up.

“Robbie won’t start. He’s had an Achilles problem that’s been chronic now for a while,” explained O’Neill.

“My doctor said to me that if I wasn’t going to start him in the game that perhaps he might stay (behind) and he might be able to get an appointment a week earlier – and a week, you know, for the amount of time that he’s off, might have been important.

“I gave that some consideration, but deep down, I wanted Robbie to come and the moment he said ‘I’m coming,’ I think that spoke volumes for him, it really did.”

O’Neill will also be without West Ham United defender Joey O’Brien due to a hamstring injury sustained during the warm-up ahead of the Latvia game and Nottingham Forest midfielder Andy Reid who also suffered a hamstring problem during training on Saturday.

Leicester City defender Sean St Ledger whose fitness was originally uncertain is now expected to be available for tonight’s game.

It is believed that John O’Shea will captain the side.

Assistant manager Roy Keane and John O'Shea
Martin O’Neill has indicated that John O’Shea may be awarded the captaincy tonight

O’Neill was keen to point out that this evening’s fixture against recently appointed Adam Nawalka’s Polish side will prove a tougher test than last week’s home game against Latvia.

He said: “Listen, genuinely there’s loads of things. We have things to do.

“We won a game on Friday night and I thought we played very well. But no, we have loads of things to work on and I think [tonight] will show that.

“Please, it’s not me putting a dampener on things. It was great to win the game, but this was one match and, at friendly level, it’s a game we would have been expected to win.

“We did it in a fine manner and that’s gone. Now we pass on to Poland, a totally different thing.”

Poland recently played their final World Cup Qualifier against England at Wembley, and O’Neill believes that they possess a range of talent.

“They are a very fine side. It’s only just a few weeks ago since they went to Wembley still in with a chance, and in fairness they missed a couple of great chances that might have changed the outlook of the game,” he said.

“Poland have always had some very, very fine players. It will be very difficult for us, it will be difficult, but it’s a game we are looking forward to.”

25-year-old Borussia Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski will be Poland’s key player and he will undoubtedly prove a real threat to O’Neill’s men.

Nawalka is likely to make changes to his side and feature Krzysztof Maczynski and Adam Marciniak, following the 2-0 defeat to Slovakia on Friday in his first match in charge.

Ahead of tonight’s match he said: “Naturally, we will approach the friendly against Ireland with a lot of faith. We want to regain the trust of our fans. Our preparations have been tailored to this very game.

“We wanted the players to recuperate physically after the game against Slovakia, and we have to eliminate the mistakes from the last game”

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Nemesha Balasundaram
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Nemesha Balasundaram is a Reporter with The Irish Post. Follow her on Twitter @nemeshaB

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