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Dublin: -3 °C Tuesday 20 March, 2018

Cunningham ruled out for 'extended period' just days after Ireland call-up

Preston’s stand-in skipper suffered an injury to his knee in Tuesday’s game against Derby County.

Preston North End defender Greg Cunningham.
Preston North End defender Greg Cunningham.
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

IRISH DEFENDER GREG Cunningham is facing a lengthy spell out of action.

Preston North End confirmed this afternoon that the 26-year-old left-back has undergone surgery on a knee injury he sustained in Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Derby County. According to the club, “an extended period” on the sidelines awaits him.

The news comes after Cunningham, who won the last of his four senior caps back in 2013, was named in the Republic of Ireland squad on Monday for the upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Gerogia and Serbia.

“It is a real blow for the player, who deservedly had just returned to the Irish squad after an excellent start to the season,” Preston manager Alex Neil told the club’s official website.

“As I described him after the game on Tuesday night, Greg is a ‘warrior’ — as illustrated by the fact he wanted to carry on despite having done the damage that now requires an operation – and I have no doubt he will be back fitter and stronger before very long and our medical team will work closely with him to get him back with us.

“Whilst we are disappointed to lose Greg, this gives other players in the squad an opportunity to show what they are capable of and we look forward to seeing them compete for a starting shirt in his absence.”

With Cunningham marked absent, former Cork City left-back Kevin O’Connor has been included among the Preston substitutes for this afternoon’s game against Reading.

It has been an eventful few days for Cunningham, who was reportedly the subject of a rejected bid from Cardiff City earlier this week.

The Galway native, who has been captaining Preston this season in the absence of injured skipper Tom Clarke, also missed the latter stages of last season with a fractured leg.

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