'Missing' Keane returns

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The Independent Football

Roy Keane, the Republic of Ireland captain, turned up in Dublin yesterday 24 hours behind schedule - but his arrival was much to the relief of his manager Mick McCarthy.

Roy Keane, the Republic of Ireland captain, turned up in Dublin yesterday 24 hours behind schedule - but his arrival was much to the relief of his manager Mick McCarthy.

The players had been told to assemble in the Irish capital at midday on Tuesday, well ahead of today's flight to Lisbon, but had received no word from Keane or his club. After reports that he was frantically trying to contact the United midfielder, McCarthy said: "Roy turned up this morning and trained well. The delay was caused because he went into Old Trafford yesterday for some treatment on a dead leg he received against Arsenal on Sunday. I've now got a full 22-man squad here at my disposal and that does not happen very often."

Keane said: "It was always my intention to turn up, no problem. I just assumed it would be the physio at United who would tell Mick I was going to be a little bit delayed."

McCarthy had already announced an unchanged team for the match with Portugal on Saturday following last month's encouraging 2-2 draw with the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

With Estonia set to visit Dublin for the next qualifier on Wednesday, another point for McCarthy's team against the Portuguese would hugely improve their qualification hopes.

Things do not look so cheerful for Northern Ireland's manager Sammy McIlroy, whose injury problems are mounting ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier with Denmark at Windsor Park on Saturday after Damien Johnson became the second player to pull out injured. The Blackburn winger has failed to recover from a groin injury and joins Bradford's right-back Ian Nolan on the sidelines.

McIlroy has drafted in the Manchester City midfielder Jeff Whitley as a replacement.

Craig Brown, the Scotland manager, is taking every precaution possible to ensure the fitness of his players ahead of his team's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Croatia. Brown withdrew four key players from training sessions yesterday as the squad prepared to travel to San Marino.

He is determined to take no chances after already having lost Paul Lambert, Barry Ferguson and Dominic Matteo to injury. Matteo, however, may still be able to join the squad in time for the Croatia match on Wednesday.

Allan Johnston, Paul Dickov, Don Hutchison and Craig Burley all withdrew from training and Burley's situation is causing the most concern because of a tight hamstring. "He is a major concern - Burley has got the power and experience. He is one we would like to have in Croatia," Brown said.

Meanwhile, Norway's Manchester United contingent are preparing for a meeting with their team-mate Ryan Giggs at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday when Norway play Wales in a World Cup qualifier. Henning Berg, Ronny Johnsen and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are all likely to play.

Wales have slight injury doubts over Robbie Savage, John Robinson and Gary Speed.

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