Dunne comeback on the cards
Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne could be in for a shock return for the nation's World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.
The Aston Villa man has been plagued with a persistent groin injury that has required three rounds of surgery and has seen the 33-year-old miss the entire Premier League season.
However Dunne, who last appeared on a football field in Ireland's final Euro 2012 match against Italy, has linked up with his compatriots ahead of their friendly against England.
But despite joining the squad's training sessions, Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni believes England could be too soon for the player.
However, the 74-year-old Italian is keeping an eye on the crunch match against the Faroe Islands on June 6 as a likely comeback date.
"Now is England and Georgia; the Faroes is a qualifier," Trapattoni said.
"He would have to be 100 per cent fit. Don't forget, this injury has been 10 months, one year. It was a bad injury and then he had surgery.
"Only if he was very, very okay, 100 per cent. But there are two or three questions: he is without a club; he is many months without a game; and it's a qualifier.
"But for us, he will be again important in the future."
However, Dunne's injury woes are not the only obstacle in his way to becoming once again a mainstay in the Ireland squad.
Out of contract act the end of this month, Dunne's club future could severely affect his chances with the national team with Trapattoni declaring that he must become a club regular to hold a spot in the team.
But in saying that, Trapattoni was also quick to underline Dunne's importance to Ireland's chances of making Brazil next year.
"I spoke with him and I clarified his position, his position with the club and his position for us. We need Richard in the future, " the Italian said.
"But he has no club at this moment. I said, 'Richard, we will help you because you deserve respect, but you have no team at this moment and you must be careful because an injury could be for you very, very dangerous'.
"We have more respect for him. I said we will go step by step. We have these two opportunities and we can assess his condition after the next two or three days.
"Sure, I want to help him. He will not start the game, but during the game depending on the score, we could give him an opportunity to play with us."
Striker Robbie Keane is also set to return for Trapattoni's side despite his club, Los Angeles Galaxy, wishing his to stay in the United States.
But the club finally relented to the Keane's wishes and the 32-year-old is expected to get some game time against the Three Lions.
And Trapattoni confirmed he would try and get Keane back to the Galaxy as quickly as possible.
"Robbie will come and I will speak with him. Sure he will play, but whether he starts or not, we will decide. Sure, he will play.
"I have respect for [Galaxy coach] Bruce [Arena] and if he wants him to come back after the Faroes, he will come back.
"Maybe he won't go to New York, but we don't know yet. His season is ongoing."