Roy Keane expects both James McCarthy and Jon Walters to feature for the Republic of Ireland in Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Group D rivals Gibraltar.
Ireland trail third-placed Scotland by two points going into the final four games, but will be heavy favourites to claim victory this week and keep their hopes of a top-three finish alive.
Catching Germany or Poland seems a tall order, but Keane is confident both McCarthy and Walters can feature as the visitors seek a similar showing to the 7-0 win in the reverse fixture back in October.
While McCarthy underwent a scan following a knock last week, Walters’ club future was the subject of speculation prior to the transfer deadline.
Walters remains a Stoke City player, but had been linked with West Brom after handing in a transfer request at the Britannia Stadium.
The 31-year-old was also excused from Ireland’s training camp briefly while his future was up in the air.
On McCarthy, assistant manager Keane said: “He did get a knock last week, but I think if you’re playing in the middle of the park, you should be getting knocks every week.
“That’s the name of the game. You’re hitting people, they’re hitting you and I’m always concerned when lads turn up, particularly midfielders, and they’ve not had knocks.
“For a player like Jon, he’s experienced, he’s not a young kid. I think maybe the move was on the cards over the weekend but it’s not panned out.
“But Jon is in a good position. He’s a good player. The fact that a few clubs were interested in him probably helps his confidence.”
Ireland could hand debuts to Eunan O’Kane and Adam Rooney after the pair were named in Martin O’Neill’s reduced 28-man squad at the weekend.
Jeff Wood’s Gibraltar have the worst defensive record in qualifying – having shipped 34 goals and scored just once – with home advantage unlikely to count for much on Friday.
While they are unable to qualify directly from the group, Wood’s men could still have an impact on who progresses in their final four outings, with clashes against Poland, Georgia and Scotland to come.
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