Staunton fears 'curse' in build-up to Czech match after injury toll grows

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The Independent Football

Steve Staunton yesterday agreed that the Republic of Ireland appeared "cursed" after revealing that three more players are struggling with injury ahead of tomorrow's European Championships qualifier at home to the Czech Republic.

Following the withdrawal of Shay Given, Stephen Carr and Steven Reid, the Republic are now set to lose goalkeeper Paddy Kenny and Stephen Ireland, who both have hamstring injuries, and Andy O'Brien who has a twisted ankle.

The damage - along with an even more damaging 5-2 defeat - was picked up against Cyprus at the weekend in a match which has been deemed by many as the country's worst-ever sporting result.

The Republic were yesterday digesting the realisation that their campaign to qualify from Group D is all but over with pressure mounting on Staunton just five games - but four consecutive defeats - into his regime.

It also appears increasingly unlikely that Sir Bobby Robson will return as consultant to the Football Association of Ireland - in other words, Staunton's adviser - due to health problems. The 73-year-old will be visited by the FAI's chief executive, John Delaney, prior to a final decision.

The Republic will stick with Staunton, who signed a four-year contract, for the time being and there are no plans to change the structure of the set-up. This which means that an experienced hand is likely to be employed if Robson steps down.

Staunton remained defiant yesterday but said of the injury crisis: "We are not having the best of luck but we have to get ourselves together, regroup." Asked if he felt there was a "curse" on him, he added: "There seems to be."

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