Ireland roof decision set for Friday

FIFA’s match official will decide on Friday whether Sweden and the Republic of Ireland will play their World Cup qualifier under a closed roof to keep out Stockholm’s wintry weather, Swedish team manager Lars Richt revealed yesterday.

“Ultimately it’s a decision for the Fifa match commissioner and that decision will be taken at a meeting which takes place on matchday at 10.30 in the morning,” Richt said.

Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni said on Monday that he would prefer the roof of the Friends Arena to be open, but the Swedes would rather keep it shut for the sake of the fans.

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“Common sense says if it’s cold and snowy everyone wants to have the conditions as good as possible and that’s with a closed roof,” Richt said.

The Group C match kicks off at 8:45pm local time (7:45pm GMT).

Ireland were given an injury scare yesterday when striker Jon Walters was left nursing a sore ankle after a training ground collision with team-mate Shane Long. However, goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly later revealed that the medical staff are confident there is no lasting damage.

Kelly said: “It’s a bit of a bang. He sort of stepped across the ball and Shane Long came in and hit the nerves on the outside of the leg, so it’s really just an impact injury. I think he’ll be okay. It’s not a twist or anything like that. After the initial burning went, he got up and got on with it. He’s a tough lad, Jon.” Walters had lengthy treatment on the pitch, but was able to walk back to the team coach and the squad headed to their Portmarnock base at the end of yesterday morning’s session.

He will be assessed further but, again, Kelly is hoping his injury is minor. The coach said: “Obviously after something like that, he would be assessed, but he was okay. Just talking to him there, he seemed to be getting over the initial shock of it, really. He’ll get a bit of ice and I think he will be okay.”