Shay's a given for Sunday - Kelly
Soccer:Goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly maintained this afternoon there are no concerns over Shay Given’s availability for the Republic of Ireland's opening Euro 2012 clash with Croatia in Poznan on Sunday.
After relenting on the decision to cancel all media interaction for the day, the Irish management sent Kelly into the breach in Sopot and he duly arrived at a local hotel with only good tidings.
Given, he said, was “busting a gut” to get out and play and his absence from the open training session in Gdynia yesterday was only to afford him some “recuperation” after his efforts in the 0-0 draw against Hungary on Monday evening.
The knee injury that has hampered him since his arrival into the Ireland camp last month has, Kelly says, led to some “compensatory issues that you get when come back training. Anybody who has seen Shay in his 121 caps and his determination to play for Ireland, you know, that’s not going to go away … wild horses wouldn’t keep him from being on that pitch.”
Kelly was asked if the game was tonight would the Aston Villa goalkeeper start. “He would play. He made four or five saves in Hungary, one reaction save. You don’t make those if you are not fully prepared.”
After some, frankly innocuous, suggestions from Aiden McGeady and Keith Andrews that fatigue was a bit of an issue in Budapest, last night’s late cancellation of training prompted suspicions of disharmony. That theory was quickly put to bed by Kelly.
Asked why there was a late call on the issues, he replied: “Why not? We’ll build up to Sunday’s game. It’s never a case of going hell for leather.
“Who are we to question a manager with 50 years experience? In any situation, whether it’s national team or a club, you are always monitoring and looking to see what you can do to help them (the players) best prepare for a game. You never have a set programme; you have to be open to change routine.”
Looking ahead to Croatia, Spain and then Italy, Kelly feels the belief is so strong in the squad: “We can go out and get a result against anybody. They have got such belief. If you look, we are unbeaten away from home and we have got three away games. We have performed so well away from how, we are sort of set up for it.
“We beat Italians last year in Liege. We have got such an inner belief and that’s what the team have when they go on the pitch. It sounds easy to say here but they backed it up with the results they have got away from home. We don’t go shouting it from the rooftops, but you go out thinking and knowing you can get a result; and that’s what you have to take into the three games.”