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Ireland midfielder McAteer fit for Saudi showdown

© Reuters 2002

INAGE, Japan, June 10 (Reuters) - Ireland midfielder Jason McAteer declared himself fit to face Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in a game the Irish need to win by two goals to guarantee qualification for the second round of the World Cup.

McAteer said he had got over the knee injury that forced him to sit out Ireland's 1-1 draw against Germany and that led to newspaper reports of a bust-up with manager Mick McCarthy.

"Mick feels that I'm a lot stronger now and he's been watching training and he feels that I'm moving a lot better, so he was quite happy for me to be available for selection tomorrow," McAteer told reporters on Monday at Ireland's training camp north of Tokyo.

McAteer, who came off at halftime in Ireland's opening 1-1 group E draw against Cameroon, felt he had recovered sufficiently from the injury to be considered for the Germany game. McCarthy felt otherwise and replaced him with Gary Kelly.

"I felt very disappointed not to play but that's a reaction that any one of the lads would have had. It's the World Cup and, at the end of the day, it's bigger than anything and it's something that I've been waiting for ages to do," McAteer said.

But he dismissed reports that he had toyed with flying home in a huff from a squad that had already lost its captain, Roy Keane, who was sent home in disgrace after a row with McCarthy. "Looking back with hindsight, Mick was 100 percent right. There was no argument. There was no disagreement. I was just very unhappy. But at no stage was I going to go home.

"This is a massive competition and of course I wanted to play. But at the end of the day I was probably kidding myself and, looking back now, Mick was right," he said. Saudi Arabia are already eliminated. Germany play Cameroon in the other group E game.

Reports provided by

Monday, 17 June
Rivaldo and Ronaldo put Brazil through
Germany know what to expect from USA-Voeller
Ireland to head home beaten but unbowed
Sunday, 16 June
Senegal achieve rare feat to reach last eight
Saturday, 15 June
Reyna in search of some good memories
Olsen blames mistakes in defence for 3-0 defeat
Friday, 14 June
Japan inspire national celebrations
South Korea and U.S. through, Portugal out
Thursday, 13 June
Trapattoni relieved as Italy survive
Ecstatic Turkey qualify for first time
Wednesday, 12 June
Agony for South Africa after Spain defeat
Argentina feel they deserved more
Tuesday, 11 June
Steely rather than silky, Germany power on
France out as Danes and Senegal go through

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