SHAY GIVEN TO VISIT KNEE SPECIALIST
Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given is to fly to London on Thursday to consult a knee specialist amid mounting injury concerns for manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
The 36-year-old is to see a doctor he has used before, and while the Football Association of Ireland insist the trip is "purely precautionary", it is a distraction Trapattoni could have done without less than three weeks before the Euro 2012 finals get under way in Poland and Ukraine.
An FAI spokesman said on Wednesday: "Shay Given will travel to London tomorrow to visit a knee specialist that he has seen in the past. He will return to Portmarnock in the evening.
"This is purely precautionary and Shay remains fine for the Euros."
Given suffered the problem in training at Gannon Park in Malahide earlier this week and had been ordered to rest for two to three days.
Trapattoni had hinted he would not risk him in Saturday's friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium with Keiren Westwood and David Forde ready to step in, but the 73-year-old will keep his fingers crossed that what his medical staff believe is a minor problem does not develop into something more sinister.
It proved a busy day for the Italian, who less than an hour earlier called up Paul McShane as defensive cover after seeing Sean St Ledger join Richard Dunne and John O'Shea on the sidelines.
A Football Association of Ireland spokesman said: "Paul McShane has been called in as an additional player to the squad to provide extra cover in defence.
"All other players remain in the squad. Paul will join up with the squad in Portmarnock this evening."
McShane, who has 26 senior caps for his country, one of them as captain in the 2-0 friendly victory over Italy last summer, was one of five men placed on stand-by when the squad was named earlier this month.
The 26-year-old could well go straight into the team for Saturday's friendly, with three-quarters of Trapattoni's first-choice back four likely to be unavailable and potential full-back cover Kevin Foley battling a hamstring problem.
Asked for an injury update after training in Malahide on Wednesday morning, assistant manager Marco Tardelli said: "We need one year to speak because we have a problem with John O'Shea, with Dunne, with St Ledger, Foley."
At the time, Tardelli revealed Trapattoni was considering calling up another defender, and the news of McShane's impending arrival was confirmed hours later.
Aston Villa's Dunne reported to the team on Sunday with a lower abdominal micro-tear, while O'Shea has been nursing the ankle injury he aggravated in Sunderland's final game of the season against former club Manchester United.
St Ledger is the latest to join the casualty list with a groin problem, while Foley has been working his way back to fitness since he joined up with the squad.
Tardelli said: "St Ledger has a little soreness in the groin. I think it's possible after Saturday or Sunday that he can play, but it's better we don't take a risk and he rests.
"Richard Dunne has a little problem also in the groin, but I think after two or three days, he will be good.
"Neither John O'Shea nor Richard Dunne will play [against Bosnia] - I think. I am not very sure, but it's possible."
However, the World Cup winner is hopeful that none of the walking wounded are genuine doubts for the finals.
He said: "No. no, I don't think so. After three or four days, they will be ready."
The Republic leave for their pre-tournament training camp in Montecatini, Italy, on Sunday, and there is a possibility McShane could be added to the travelling party for training purposes.
Tardelli said: "We can't go to the Euros with 24 players, the most is 23. We will decide for this match and maybe for Montecatini, but after we will decide.
"It's possible we could have injuries and it is possible to stay with us."
Despite the injury problems, Trapattoni was once again throwing himself into his job on Wednesday morning.
His assistant knows the 73-year-old as well as anyone, and he admits he never relaxes.
Tardelli said: "Never, never. He likes football and always watches DVDs, he always speaks with us about football.
"That's normal, that's his life."
Asked if he is the same, Tardelli said with a smile: "Yes, because I stay with Giovanni."
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