Euro 2016: Stephen Ward's fitness hopes improve for Republic's France game

Stephen Ward sat out Republic training on Friday morning
Stephen Ward has started the Republic's last two games

Stephen Ward's chances of playing in the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2016 match against hosts France on Sunday appear to have improved.

Ward, 30, injured an ankle during Wednesday's dramatic win over Italy but manager Martin O'Neill said on Saturday that the full-back was "doing well".

O'Neill added that Stoke forward Jonathan Walters, his other injury worry, was "progressing well".

Walters, 32, has missed their last two games because of an Achilles injury.

O'Neill is likely to be keen to retain Ward at left-back and allow Robbie Brady, who scored in the 1-0 win over Italy that secured a place in the knockout stages, to be used in the more offensive role he adopted to such good effect on Werdnesday.

Inevitably, the pre-match discussion about Sunday's game in Lyon includes mention of the Republic's controversial World Cup play-off meeting with France in November 2009.

The Irish missed out on a place at the 2010 finals as they drew 1-1 in Paris after losing the first leg 1-0 in Dublin - but the decisive goal for France, scored by William Gallas, featured a clear handball by Thierry Henry in the build-up.

However, O'Neill says the current Republic squad have "decided to forget about it".

"It will be a talking point obviously but I don't think it will concern us when we play the game," added O'Neill.

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