Waiting game for Jonathan Walters

Jonathan Walters’ daily injury updates continue to be delivered in upbeat tones, but the race is on for the Stoke City player to prove his fitness ahead of the Republic of Ireland’s European Championship opener against Sweden on Monday.

Walters sat out another training session at the National Sports Campus yesterday due to an Achilles issue, one that was initially reported as a calf problem, and the team’s departure for France today will necessitate another down day for him.

“Jon will gauge his own body, what he can and can’t do,” said Roy Keane. “In an ideal world, you want all your players training every day. But Jon has earned the right to have a few more days to see if he can be involved in training by the weekend.

“You’re guessing if he’ll be involved on Monday, he would have to do something, join in the group certainly, I’m guessing, by Saturday because it’s been over a week now since he’s done anything. We have to play it by ear, see how he goes day by day. We have to trust the player.”

Walters has been integral to the team in qualifying and Keane spoke in glowing terms of his character, work-rate and quality, and how the player’s combined gifts sum up the squad as a whole. He will be given every chance to prove his fitness.

“If Jon’s got any chance, I know the type of lad he is, he will give it a go.”

Walters’ absence for the group opener in Saint-Denis would be a significant blow, but Martin O’Neill could face a dilemma if the Achilles issue continues to hang about as managers do have the option of calling up a replacement for an injured player until the first ball is kicked. 

That possibility has not yet been discussed, according to Keane, who had earlier watched Robbie Keane train fully for the second day in a row. Robbie Brady’s absence due to a back spasm was described as precautionary.

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