Best pulls out of Republic squad
Newcastle striker Leon Best has been forced to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland squad due to an ankle injury.
Last Updated: 23/03/11 4:51pm
Newcastle striker Leon Best has been forced to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland squad to face Macedonia in 2012 European Championship qualifying due to an ankle injury.
Having missed his club's defeat at Stoke last weekend due to injury, the 24-year-old trained with Giovanni Trapattoni's squad on Wednesday after being excused from Tuesday's session in order to work on his fitness.
But the ankle problem continued to cause discomfort and after further assessment it has been decided that he will return to Newcastle for treatment.
Best's premature departure from international duty, with the Republic due to take on Macedonia in Dublin on Saturday, means he will face club boss Alan Pardew earlier than expected after the striker's now infamous nightclub outing last Friday.
Meanwhile, Marco Tardelli, the assistant of Republic boss Trapattoni, is convinced stalwarts Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne will be able to lead the fight for precious qualifying points against Macedonia.
Keane, currently on loan at West Ham, has managed only a few minutes of competitive football for his club since shaking off a calf injury, while Dunne has been missing from the Aston Villa side for the last three weeks with a shoulder problem.
But both men trained on Wednesday and Tardelli is increasingly confident that both will be ready to go into battle for their country in the Group B contest on Saturday evening.
He said: "For me, the whole match. Robbie looked very well in training and also I saw the match against Stoke, when he played 20 minutes.
"But now he has improved and he is ready for us."
Asked whether Dunne is 100 per cent fit and will play, Tardelli said: "Richard Dunne arrived last night and today has trained very well. I think his problem is finished. He is fit."
The Republic are second in Group B with seven points from four matches and well aware that back-to-back qualifiers against Macedonia, they travel to Skopje in June, could be hugely significant.