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Saturday, 25 May, 2002, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Ireland sweat on McAteer
McAteer was left in a heap after a sliding tackle
McAteer was left in a heap after a crude tackle
BBC Sport Online's Lyle Jackson

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A scan on his injured left knee will determine whether Jason McAteer's World Cup is over before the tournament has even begun.

The Sunderland midfielder was left rolling in agony after a reckless tackle during Saturday's friendly against Sanfreece Hiroshima.

McAteer was close to tears after been carried off on a stretcher late in the first half.

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy said: "Jason was very down afterwards.

"But I have told him he will be all right and I sincerely hope he will be.

"It may be just bruising. He is going for a scan to check for ligament damage."

The incident follows on the heels of the controversy surrounding captain Roy Keane, who was sent home on Thursday after a row with manager Mick McCarthy.

The Republic came from behind to win the warm-up game in Izumo's Hamayama Stadium 2-1, both goals coming from Robbie Keane.

McCarthy went into the game saying he wanted a good workout and for no injuries.

But as well as McAteer's worrying knee injury, his Sunderland team-mate Kevin Kilbane hobbled off.

"Kevin just got a little twist on his ankle and Ian Harte has a sore foot but both will be okay - no danger," said McCarthy.

The Irish manager made little attempt to hide his anger about the crude challenge on McAteer.

And the revelation that the offender Tulio was from Cameroon - Ireland's first opponents in the World Cup - did little to lighten his mood.

When told that Tulio was going to the Irish changing room to apologise, McCarthy said: "I do not think he would be welcome there right now.

"It was a bad tackle, I have no doubt about that. And in the spirit of a friendly match there was no need for it."

Ireland's first match in the post-Roy Keane era saw Ipswich skipper Matt Holland and Charlton's injury-dogged Mark Kinsella as the central midfield duo.

And, although this was a low-key warm-up match, McCarthy said he was happy with what he saw.

"They were excellent, but we already knew what a good partnership they are," said the Ireland manager.

"Damien Duff and Robbie Keane started off very well up front and I thought Steve Staunton was excellent at the back with his defending and passing."

Staunton, who has stepped up to captain Ireland following Roy Keane's departure, said: "There were a few of them flying in with two-footed challenges, but any time we did it the referee seemed to take a harsher view."

He also defended his side's build-up to the World Cup.

Roy Keane had criticised the squad's preparations at their first base in Saipan.

"I think Saipan has worked to our advantage," he said. "The atmosphere of Japan is a lot cooler than Saipan and I think last week has given us that edge.

"Team spirit has always been the same. We have got a quality bunch of lads and that hasn't changed in 15 years.

"We have been focused. We have come here for a job and we are going to do that."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Jonathan Overend
"Indications are more positive than yesterday"
Republic boss Mick McCarthy
"Jason's injury is a concern"
Republic of Ireland captain Steve Staunton
"We're very focused"
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GROUP E
  P GD PTS
GERMANY 3 +10 7
IRELAND 3 +3 5
CAMEROON 3 -1 4
SAUDI ARABIA 3 -12 0

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