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Published: 11:06 | 24/6/16

Walters back training as Ward sits out

Ankle injury could sideline Ward

Jonathan Walters has returned to training with the Republic of Ireland ahead of Sunday's Euro 2016 showdown with France.

The Stoke forward has not featured since he was substituted in the 65th minute of the 1-1 draw with Sweden after aggravating an Achilles injury.

He failed to train in the lead up to the 1-0 defeat of Italy on Wednesday night but he did join the rest of his team-mates for Friday's training in Versailles and took full-part in the session.

The return of Walters will provide a major boost to the squad as they prepare for a last-16 meeting against the hosts, but Stephen Ward was unable to train due to an ankle problem.

Manager Martin O'Neill revealed on Thursday that Ward's ankle had 'blown up' after the defeat of Italy and the Burnley defender is now in a race to be fit to face France on Sunday.

France scored late in their opening two matches to top Group A and expectations are high that the host nation will progress to the last eight of the competition.

Ireland dominated against Italy and assistant manager believes they will need another strong performance to have any chance of beating Les Bleus.

“I know the French have had a few more days extra to recover, so that's part of our jobs and the medical side of things, to make sure we are ready to go, and I am sure we will be, I don't think that will be an issue," Keane told reporters on Friday.

“It's just dealing with the [injured] players you mentioned and trusting the players to get on with the job. If they perform like they did the other night, you give yourselves a chance, its as simple as that.

“The big question is whether we can show the same energy levels against France.

“It doesn't look like the pressure of being hosts is getting to France, but it might do on Sunday. Let's hope so."

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