Richard Keogh is ready to play with a broken hand as the Republic of Ireland attempt to launch their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with victory in Gibraltar.
The 32-year-old Derby defender broke a bone in his right hand during Wednesday’s 0-0 Sky Bet Championship draw with Stoke, but opted not to have surgery to repair the damage which would have ruled him out of the double-header against Gibraltar and Georgia.
Keogh said: “I went for the X-ray and at first they were talking about surgery. This was before I spoke to the hand surgeon and I didn’t particularly want to do that, I wanted to get his opinion first before I did anything.
“When I spoke to him, I just said, ‘Listen, if there’s a chance of me playing, I just want to carry on playing if that’s at all possible. I don’t want to have surgery’. I’d rather just take the risk, I suppose, and just crack on.
“He saw the X-ray and said, ‘I think we can do that’. If it hadn’t been the middle of my finger where it’s protected by the other two, I think I might have had to have surgery and been out for bit.
“But fingers crossed, with this now, I can just resume training, playing and carry on, so it worked out well in the end.”
Keogh, who is planning to play – if selected – wearing a protective cast, insisted he was not taking any risks by declaring himself available.
He said: “I had a good conversation with him, the hand surgeon, and he said he’s seen this injury a few times and people have played with it.”
New Republic boss Mick McCarthy was dealt a fresh blow on Tuesday morning when striker Shane Long was forced to withdraw from the squad with a groin injury, with Millwall forward Aiden O’Brien flying in to replace him.
McCarthy will hope to get off to a flying start as he attempts to erase the memories of a disappointing Nations League campaign as Martin O’Neill’s reign drew to a close, although Keogh is adamant the players have to take responsibility for that.
He said: “Listen, the way it ended last year for us, it wasn’t a great year, I think we can all hold our hands up to that. As players, we have got to take responsibility. We could have performed a lot better.
“But whatever has happened in the past is in the past now. Mick’s coming in, he’s a fantastic manager, a fantastic guy. His record, not just for Ireland but at club level, is very good.
“It’s up to us now as players to really try to step up and have a really good qualifying campaign.”