Republic of Ireland v Switzerland

Robbie Keane has scored 67 goals for the Republic of Ireland

Robbie Keane has scored 67 goals for the Republic of Ireland

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Robbie Keane and Anthony Pilkington have been ruled out of the Republic of Ireland’s friendly against Switzerland on Friday night at the Aviva Stadium.

Keane has taken longer than expected to recover from a knock sustained at the weekend while Pilkington has been troubled by persistent knee concerns.

Jonathan Walters will not play because of a hamstring injury but should be fit to face Slovakia on Tuesday.

Bournemouth’s Harry Arter will miss both games after damaging his Achilles.

Republic manager Martin O’Neill has vowed to use the first of two games in four days to run the rule over some of his squad’s fringe players.

O’Neill likely to experiment

With skipper Keane and Cardiff midfielder Pilkington out of contention, it may free up the boss to experiment.

“Robbie’s still sore,” said O’Neill at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“He got a bit of a knock and he’s taking a little bit longer to get over it than he expected. He probably won’t be available for Friday but we’ll look at it again over the weekend.”

Pilkington will also be reassessed ahead of the clash with Slovakia.

O’Neill is keen to get a look at Blackburn defender Shane Duffy and Brentford midfielder Alan Judge over the two games.

There will be also a start in one of the games for Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot.


Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliott is set to start one of the Republic of Ireland’s upcoming friendlies

O’Neill said it would take some effort for a player to emerge from the pack to make the squad as James McClean did ahead of Euro 2012 four years ago, but has reminded his hopefuls that a new World Cup qualifying campaign is just around the corner.

He added: “Let’s be fair about it, the players who are coming in late here have a bit to do, I must admit. Everything would probably have to go pretty well for them individually.

“But it’s not impossible and it’s happened before, and that’s why I’d like to open the door for them, to feel as if they have got a chance.

“And for instance, one or two of them – let’s say they didn’t make it – they know they are right maybe for the World Cup campaign coming up almost immediately.”

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