Roy Keane used a visit from Seamus Coleman to inspire the Republic of Ireland’s players ahead of Sunday’s crucial World Cup qualifier with Austria in Dublin (KO 5pm).
The Republic go into the game level on points with Group C leaders Serbia and four points clear of Austria, with Keane saying they must prepare for battle and using the injured Everton full back as inspiration.
Coleman broke his leg the World Cup qualifying draw against Wales at the Aviva Stadium in March, but was at training at FAI’s National Training Centre in Abbotstown on Friday.
“We want players playing on the edge, putting their bodies on the lines, which they have done before,” said the Ireland assistant manager.
“You have to be ready to accept whatever comes along, like Seamus when he broke his leg.
“People have done a lot more than break their legs for their country, they’ve died for their country so we want them to put their bodies on the line and give everything they’ve got.
“My mindset, with any group of players I’m working with, is we’re going into battle on Sunday – let’s be ready for it. Be ready to put your body on the line like Seamus did.
“It’s nice to see Seamus around the place. He’s been in since last night and it’s good to catch up with him. It looks like his recovery is going well and he looks in good spirits so it’s nice to have him amongst the players.
“I think they’re all glad to see him. Unfortunately he’s not available to play but hopefully he will be back in a few months. The important thing is that his recovery is going really well, but it’s nice to see him.
“I think the players are in good spirits, they mindset so hopefully we go out and produce moments of quality.”
James McLean scored the only goal of the game when the Republic and Austria met in Vienna in their earlier Group C clash, and Ireland will take to the pitch on Sunday in confident mood they can repeat that result following their 3-1 win over Uruguay – a result which wiped out the memory of their loss to Mexico by the same scoreline in New Jersey.
Keane confirmed that Jonathan Walters trained with the squad on Friday, putting to rest fears that the striker could miss the match due to a knee injury picked up against Uruguay.
Stephen Ward was another injury doubt to train, while Alan Browne, Andy Boyle and John Egan have all left the squad.
“He’s [Jonathan Walters] fine; trained today after a few days rest after the game on Sunday,” said Keane.
“He’s an experienced player, knows his own body and he needed a few days to recover after Sunday, but he’s trained today so that’s good.”
Keane, however, wasn’t giving too much away about selection for Sunday, including who would line up between the posts, with both Darren Randolph and Keiren Westwood both having strong cases to start.
“I think the manager has good options, not just with the goalkeepers – talk about the centre halves, midfield… It’s a nice problem the manager’s got and that’s despite the few players who are missing that some people might classify as regulars for Ireland,” said Keane.
Keane talked up Sunday’s opponents Austria and said that despite missing a number of players they will present a stern test.
“They are a good team and they probably thought that they should have got a result at the end of it,” said Keane, referring to Ireland’s 1-0 win in Vienna.
“They had a great chance and probably should have equalised.
“We are under no illusions about how tough the game is.
“I don’t ever remember us being involved and having an easy game. Every game is tough for us and we know that we have to be at our very, very best with and without the ball, and hopefully – which we didn’t do against Wales – produce one or two bits of quality that would get us the right result.
“But the players and the manager know it is going to be a tough, tough game.”
You might also be interested in this article
James McClean will be hoping to extend his goal scoring form when Ireland welcome Austria to Dublin on Sunday for the sides’ World Cup qualifier.