Photo by Greig Cowie/ISIPhotos.com
By JUSTIN FERGUSON
The Republic of Ireland will be without captain and leading goalscorer Robbie Keane for Tuesday’s crucial World Cup qualifying match against Austria.
The Los Angeles Galaxy forward left Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Sweden last Friday with a calf injury. Keane, who is two caps away from being Ireland’s all-time leader, withdrew from the squad on Sunday after a scan revealed fresh damage to the calf.
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni called up Wolverhampton forward Kevin Doyle to replace Keane in the squad. Doyle’s absence from the team made headlines last week when he told reporters that he was dropped by way of text message.
Trapattoni’s squad trails second-place Sweden by one point in UEFA’s Group C and is only behind its Tuesday opponent on goal differential.
Here are some more stories to wrap up your Monday:
XAVI AND XABI ALONSO SET TO RETURN FOR SPAIN
Midfielders Xavi and Xabi Alonso are expected to return to the defending World Cup champion Spain’s lineup for its qualifying showdown with France on Tuesday.
“Both (Xavi and Alonso) are fine but as I have said we are not going to risk anyone and it will be the players who take the final decision,” Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque said during his press conference on Monday.
Xavi and Alonso both missed Spain’s 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday due to nagging injuries. The two midfielders are expected to join Sergio Busquets at midfield on Tuesday, reuniting the trio that helped lead Spain to World Cup and Euro titles. Busquets was moved to an emergency center back position during Spain’s 1-1 draw with France in October.
Spain sits two points behind France in UEFA’s Group A following the Finland draw. The top team in each group automatically qualify for Brazil while the runners-up enter a two-legged playoff for one of Europe’s final spots.
MONTENEGRO MANAGER BLASTS ENGLAND IN PRE-MATCH CONFERENCE
Montenegro manager Branko Brnovic pulled no punches in his fiery press conference on Monday as he lashed out against current England players, former English internationals and the Football Association.
Brnovic responded to criticism of the field at Montenegro’s Podgorica City Stadium, where his squad will host England in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier.
“I read in the press today statements from some English players about the way the pitch will look,” Brnovic said. “As far as I know, [it is] the English [who] have always favored long passes. This supports the idea that they’re more scared of this game than we are.”
He then took aim at former England captain Alan Shearer, who wrote in The Sun that Montenegro may try to rough up Wayne Rooney in order to get the striker in trouble again. Rooney was sent off for kicking Montenegro’s Miodrag Dzudovic the last time England visited Montenegro, and the incident caused him to miss the first two matches of Euro 2012.
“As far as I know, Rooney was the one who attacked our player last time, not vice-versa,” Brnovic said. “I know that our strikers Jovetic and Vucinic always suffer strong kicks, but they never complain. English legends [like Shearer] are already trying to resort to excuses for what happens tomorrow.”
England trails first-place Montenegro by two points in UEFA’s Group H. However, reports indicate that the Football Association has scheduled friendlies against Germany and Argentina in November—matches that only could be played if England avoided a playoff by finishing at top of Group H.
“Perhaps they organized the friendlies before the start of the qualifiers,” he said. “Perhaps after the game tomorrow they will have to cancel them. I would say that could be their undoing tomorrow.”
The FBI denied a report on Monday that it has detained Chelsea owner and Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich. (REPORT)
Vincent Kompany, who will make his return to action with Belgium on Tuesday, says that Manchester City will come back stronger next year after this season’s Premier League disappointments. (REPORT)
Jose Mourinho hinted at a possible return to Chelsea after saying his future coaching destination “could be a destination where [he has] coached before.” (REPORT)
Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari believes that his squad should be playing more games in their own country. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Can Ireland keep its World Cup dreams alive without Keane? How do you think Xavi and Alonso’s return will impact Spain against France? What are your thoughts on Brnovic’s comments?
Share your thoughts below.