Martin O’Neill sweats on Shay Given fitness ahead of Euro 2016
Goalkeeper having surgery in a bid to sort out knee problem and make it to France
Shay Given is undergoing knee surgery in a bid to salvage his chances of making it to Euro 2016 following the injury he picked up in Ireland’s win over Germany. Photograph: Getty
Martin O’Neill says he is waiting to see how successful Shay Given’s latest attempt to sort out the knee problem that has troubled him since he was injured while playing for the Republic of Ireland against Germany last October is, with the 39 year-old having travelled to Qatar for surgery in the hope of salvaging his chances of playing at Euro2016.
The Stoke City goalkeeper has played just two League Cup games for his club this season and hasn’t featured competitively for anyone since coming off against the world champions at the Aviva. His fitness seemed to be improving, though it had been expected that he might leave for another club on loan in order to get some game time.
Instead, he was forced to return to The Aspetar clinic for further treatment and while the Donegalman has since returned to light training at his club, he now looks a major doubt for the friendly games later this month against Switzerland and Slovakia while his prospects of making the squad for France are clearly under threat.
“Shay has got to try to get himself fit,” said ONeill in Paris on Thursday morning. “He’s gone out to the Middle East and we’ll see what the consequences of that are. He’s played a big part for us since he came out of retirement, though. He’s been an exceptional goalkeeper for us; just an exceptional goalkeeper (in general) so we’ll monitor his situation.
“I think Seamus McDonagh is in close contact with him. As we now approach here, I will be getting an update on all the players. Not just the injured players, but all the players that played a part in proceedings for us, and who might think they might be involved. Again, he hasn’t played really since coming off against Germany and that’s a fairly lengthy period of time but if he’s making good progress then we’ll see how he goes.
The pressure on Given to prove his fitness is increased by the competition for the three goalkeeping places in O’Neill’s 23 man squad. Darren Randolph has done well for Ireland since replacing Given in that game against Germany while Rob Elliot continues to get far more top flight first team action than any of the other contenders, factors that could, even before Keiren Westwood is included in the picture, leave David Forde and Given scrapping it out for one place on the plane
“The big plus has been that Elliot has been playing matches for Newcastle,” says O’Neill. “That’s a plus, a real plus I also think that Darren Randolph is at least playing in the cup matches for West Ham and might continue to do that. I’m not there to pick West Ham’s team but it’s good news and I think now that West Ham’s view is stronger than it was at the start of the season.”
O’Neill is expected to name his squad for the two friendly matches on Friday, March 11th.