Republic wait on St Ledger

25 March 2011 07:30

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni was keeping his fingers crossed on Friday over Sean St Ledger's fitness ahead of Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia.

The 26-year-old Preston defender has been unable to train since damaging a knee in a training ground collision with Ciaran Clark on Tuesday morning, and time is running out fast for him to prove he can line up alongside Richard Dunne at the weekend.

St Ledger will be assessed on Saturday, when Trapattoni will have to make a call in the face of a growing injury crisis.

Goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly said on Thursday night: "We are giving him as much time as possible. Twenty-four hours can make a big difference and we will see what he is like tomorrow. The problem is around the knee area. It was boot to boot - he kicked Ciaran Clark's leg. It was an impact injury, so he will be assessed tomorrow."

If St Ledger does not make it, Clark could be one of the candidates to replace him having initially being penned in as a possible contender for the left-back spot along with Kevin Kilbane.

Kelly was giving little away on the manager's thinking on that front, insisting instead that the next 24 hours could yet bring good news.

He said: "Obviously he (Clark) has done very well for Aston Villa in a defensive role, but we will have to wait and see. You are discounting Sean St Ledger too soon. As I say, 24 hours is a long time."

In the circumstances, Dunne's continued presence on the training pitch represents a major boost for Trapattoni with the Villa defender seemingly having recovered from his shoulder problem.

But with keeper Shay Given and full-back John O'Shea both sidelined by injury, St Ledger's loss would leave Trapattoni's first-choice defence in tatters.

The squad was reduced further on Thursday night when Everton midfielder Seamus Coleman was withdrawn after his ankle injury was assessed, following Newcastle striker Leon Best on his way back to England. But experienced winger Damien Duff had earlier trained for the first time since arriving with an inflamed Achilles tendon.

Source: PA