Anxious times for Martin O’Neill as strikers injured

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill is facing an anxious wait as he prepares to name his squad for the Euro 2016 finals with all five of his strikers currently injured.

LA Galaxy frontman Robbie Keane and Stoke counterpart Jonathan Walters have both undergone knee surgery since leaving the camp prematurely ahead of Tuesday night’s 2-2 friendly draw with Slovakia, in which Shane Long suffered a patella tendon problem which has left him doubtful for Southampton’s trip to Leicester tomorrow..

Both Keane and Walters face several weeks on the sidelines and with Kevin Doyle, who had surgery to repair an horrific gash to his shin after last Friday evening’s 1-0 friendly victory over Switzerland, and replacement Daryl Murphy, who suffered a calf strain, already sidelined, O’Neill will be keeping everything crossed.

News of 35-year-old Keane’s procedure was confirmed by Galaxy in a statement on their official website, www.lagalaxy.com.

It said: “LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane underwent successful surgery on his right knee Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles. The surgery was performed by Dr Bert R Mandelbaum at the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group and Kerlan-Jobe Institute at Cedars-Sinai. The Galaxy captain is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.”

The extent of Walters’ problem came as something of a surprise to Stoke manager Mark Hughes, who is hoping the 32-year-old could yet play for the club again before the end of the season.

Hughes said: “I spoke to Jon today and asked him what had happened because we were all a little bit taken aback by it.

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“He found something during the game at Watford, but it was not enough for him to not complete the game. He didn’t think there was anything too significant. Over the next couple of days the knee didn’t settle down and he had a little bit of swelling.

“He went away with the Irish squad and wasn’t fit, but was hoping he’d be involved in the second game. But it was clear he was struggling, so we needed to find out exactly what was going on.

“He went for a scan and it showed he has a tear in his cartilage, so that has been trimmed. He’s had it before and is very positive — I think he has said the last time it happened, he was back in three weeks. It might be a little bit longer than that.

“But it is one of those things that needed to be done.”

Long will have his knee assessed again after training today but it understood that surgery is not required.

Doyle is hoping to start running again within a mater of weeks, while the injury to Murphy are not thought to be serious.

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