Robbie Brady probably thought his European Championship ambitions were safe enough when he clocked off duty in Cork last Friday and returned home to spend some down time with his family before thoughts turned irreversibly towards France.
He was wrong.
The Norwich City player reported back for duty with a back spasm that ruled him out of training this last two days and, had it been worse, would have qualified him for a shot at the award for unluckiest injury of all time given the stakes at play this month.
“I went to lift my little girl out of the bath the other day and as soon as I bent down to pick her up I just felt something go a small bit,” he explained yesterday.
“I got a night’s sleep then and when I woke up I was a bit tight and stiff.”
He feared the worst at the time, but there have been no long-term effects and, though he was tempted to train yesterday, he sat out a second straight day on the advice of the team medical staff who were mindful of the fact that he faces a period of travel today.
With hearts already aflutter over Jonathan Walters, nobody needed Brady to join him on the doubtful list.
Not given his contribution in the qualifying campaign and again in the friendly against Holland in Dublin last Friday week. Brady’s set-piece deliveries were exceptional against the Dutch.
Roy Keane admitted they will be a crucial part of Ireland’s arsenal this month while agreeing that the Dubliner should have no lack of suitors eager to provide an alternative to life in the Championship next season.
“It would be wrong for me to be talking about his club career because he’s at a good club in Norwich, but I would expect him to have options because he’s a good player and of the importance of dead-ball situations, not just in the Euros, but in the Premier League.”
Brady himself faced a barrage of questions about his dead ball abilities and seemed almost bemused by the interest in whether he has always practised them assiduously and whether he had modelled himself on any players in particular.
For the record: He does and he didn’t.
So keen was the interest in that part of his game that Brady felt obliged to point out it wasn’t the sum of what he can offer on the field. His superb and crucial goal from play in the first-leg of the play-off away to Bosnia-Herzegovina last month was proof of that.
“I like to attack and that was good for me, to go and show something like that, because in a big tournament it’s always good to feel like you’ve played a little part of helping to get us here. I like going forward, I like to play football. I’m enjoying it.” He looks well equipped to maximise his potential in France.
Keane spoke of his versatility, of a player who can play left midfield, centre midfield and even as a player who can cut in from wide on the right while a season spent mostly at left-back with Norwich has helped him acclimatise to the defensive part of his main brief.
Brady is fit and ready to go.
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