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banner Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 11:34 GMT
Keane boost for Ireland
Roy Keane in action for Man Utd against Newcastle
Keane is captain of United and Ireland
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy is confident that captain Roy Keane will be fit for the World Cup play-off against Iran at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had suggested that his midfield general would not be fit for the crucial World Cup match.

However, McCarthy said on Tuesday that skipper Roy Keane would join up with the panel on Thursday morning.

"I spoke to Roy by telephone today and he told me that he is fine after his recent knee injury," said the Irish boss.

"Roy has been training at Manchester United and receiving treatment at the same time. But he'll definitely be travelling to Dublin."

I will be fit to play if selected
Kevin Kilbane

That will come as a huge relief for Republic fans, who had feared the worst following Ferguson's comments on Monday.

According to Ferguson, the midfielder was still being plagued by the knee injury.

"He felt it again (in training) on Saturday. He will have more physiotherapy, but he's very doubtful," said Ferguson.

Ireland meet Iran in the first leg at Lansdowne Road on Saturday, with the return in Tehran on 15 November.

The winners qualify for the 2002 World Cup finals, which start in Korea and Japan on 31 May.

Sunderland winger Kevin Kilbane also is expected to be available after recovering from an ankle injury.

Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy
McCarthy has a number of minor injury worries

Bolton midfielder Gareth Farrelly has received a late call-up to the Irish squad.

Mick McCarthy added Farrelly to his panel after the withdrawal of Wolves man Mark Kennedy with a hamstring injury.

The Bolton man won the last of his six caps in the 1-1 draw with the USA in Boston in June last year.

Kilbane took part in most of Tuesday's training session.

"My ankle problem has kept me out of the game for three weeks but I felt fine and there was no reaction afterwards.

"I will be fit to play if selected," said Kilbane.

Ipswich's Matt Holland, Fulham's Steven Finnan and Millwall's Steven Reid opted out of Tuesday's training session.

"They have only minor knocks and didn't take part as a precaution.

"But I expect them all to be ready for action on Saturday," said McCarthy.

Other top World Cup 2002 stories:

Links to more World Cup 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


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