World Cup qualifiers round up: Republic of Ireland rocked by Robbie Keane injury for must-win game against Austria


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The Independent Football

The Republic of Ireland have been dealt a major blow with captain Robbie Keane being forced to withdraw from the squad for the World Cup qualifier against Austria in Dublin tomorrow.

The 32-year-old striker had a scan on the calf strain he suffered during Friday’s 0-0 draw in Sweden yesterday and the results have confirmed that he will be unable to play. Wolves striker Kevin Doyle, who was informed by text that he had not made the final 23 for the double-header, has been drafted in as a replacement. After earning a point in Stockholm, Giovanni Trapattoni’s side must beat Austria to strengthen their claims for a play-off place.

The Wales captain, Ashley Williams, has insisted victory over Scotland proves Chris Coleman is still the right man to lead the side through their World Cup qualifying campaign. Coleman had been under pressure before the 2-1 triumph at Hampden on Friday having guided them to just one win from their first four matches.

“The manager was spot on against Scotland. He made good substitutions and got all the big calls right,” Williams said. “There has been criticism of him but not from anyone who matters. People have just been talking for talking’s sake. We are not concerned about it and the lads are behind him. We enjoy playing for him, we enjoy the camps, we enjoy the training.”

The Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor has urged his team-mates to enjoy their World Cup qualifier against Serbia as the national team look to get out of their rut. Scotland sit bottom of Group A after defeat against Wales and the games do not get any easier for Scotland with two trips to the Balkans coming up, firstly against Serbia in Novi Sad tomorrow before facing Croatia in June.

“Morale is fine,” McGregor said. “Obviously it would be stupid for me to say we are not disappointed because all the boys are. We didn’t start the game well but I thought we finished the first half well and I thought at the start of the second half we were in control until the sending off.”

The Barcelona defender, Jordi Alba, will miss Spain’s crucial World Cup qualifier against France in Paris tomorrow. Alba injured his right leg during the 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday. Spain trail France by two points.