Kerr opts for the unorthodox to ease Ireland's injuries

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The Independent Online

Despite the advances in medical science the Republic of Ireland have put their faith in the healing powers of the Irish Sea.

Despite the advances in medical science the Republic of Ireland have put their faith in the healing powers of the Irish Sea.

Brian Kerr, the Ireland coach, revealed yesterday that his squad had been told to plunge into the waters off their training camp in Portmarnock, north of Dublin, after returning from their World Cup qualifier against France.

"I've always been a great believer in the healing qualities of the sea," Kerr said. "And, although it was a bit cold, it seems to have done the trick. It sorted out a few aches and pains."

It was a treatment Kerr endorsed last year for Damien Duff - although that was in the summer months - prompting early morning calls to the local coastguard. Thankfully, this time round, there was no alarm. Among those to benefit were John O'Shea (groin) and Stephen Carr (twisted ankle) although Clinton Morrison has had to return to Birmingham City for surgery after damaging cartilage in his left knee in Paris.

Morrison will be out for at least a month, which is bad news for City manager Steve Bruce who is already without Mikael Forssell for the season and, after letting Stern John go, has just two strikers.

For the Irish, Kerr has put strikers Jon Macken and David Connolly on standby. He has also released Richard Dunne from the squad as his damaged calf muscle has failed to recover in time for tomorrow's match against the Faroe Islands. Of more concern is whether to play Roy Keane.

The Manchester United captain, who performed so well in the weekend's draw, trained on his own after suffering a bang on his knee. He should recover but Kerr may not risk him anyway as Keane is on a yellow card. One more and he would miss next year's crucial match away to Israel.

The importance of Keane was underlined yesterday by the man who partnered him in the middle, Kevin Kilbane. "I have learned a lot from him. He brings out the best in players. He is a wonderful player himself and it is good to play alongside him," Kilbane said.

He also suggested that, perhaps, Keane had changed. "But then he was never really someone who would shout for the sake of shouting," Kilbane added. "People perhaps imagine him to be this ranter and raver who just shouts at team-mates all the time but because he is so thoughtful and tells people off when it is the right time, players tend to listen. Believe me he can still give a rollicking out when it's needed and I have been on the receiving end, but most of the time he is a calming influence."

Ireland will need to stay calm against the Faroe Islands. Captain Kenny Cunningham rightly pointed out that if they did not win it would undo the good work done against France. However there is also still a sense of injustice in the air after that fixture, which Ireland should have won. France were fortunate not to concede a penalty when goalkeeper Fabien Barthez clearly elbowed Andy O'Brien. "It's a very serious issue," Kerr said. "But the referee missed it."

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