IRELAND’S SQUAD FOR the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova has been significantly-depleted by a raft of injuries.
The Boys in Green, who picked up one point in their opening Group D game away to Serbia last month, are in action at the Aviva Stadium this Thursday before travelling to Chisinau for a first-ever meeting with Moldova on Sunday.
Having named a 33-man provisional panel a couple of weeks ago, manager Martin O’Neill has had to cross off the names of Keiren Westwood (thigh), Aiden McGeady (hamstring), Daryl Murphy (calf), Stephen Quinn (knee), Kevin Doyle (ankle) and Anthony Pilkington (thigh) as they’re definitely ruled out.
“We have a few problems but sure that’s the nature of the business and we just have to get on with it,” O’Neill said at the FAI’s National Training Centre today.
“It’s the way it goes. It’s not great as it’s a quick turnaround on Thursday and then we fly out the next day to Moldova. It happens, you just have to push your luck and get on with it.”
Bournemouth’s Harry Arter is a major doubt as he’s having a scan back at his club, while club mate Marc Wilson won’t be featuring due to his lack of match fitness.
James McCarthy of Everton linked up with the squad and did some work despite being sidelined for the past month after undergoing a groin operation.
He hasn’t played much but he isn’t feeling too bad,” the Derryman said on McCarthy. “Of course he hasn’t been involved with the first team in recent weeks.
“He’s just recovering from the operation, but he’s done a lot of work. He’s pretty optimistic so we’ll see how that goes over the next two days.
“We don’t have much time between now and Thursday but if he gets a couple of training sessions in that would be beneficial for him and useful for us.”
Elsewhere, Conor Hourihane hasn’t made the cut after a first inclusion on provisional list, but Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney and Manchester City goalkeeper Ian Lawlor (on-loan at Bury) have been drafted in and Falkirk stopper Danny Rogers also got his first taste of the senior set-up today.
“I went down to watch him (Hourihane) play quite a number of times and I’ve spoken to him and he’s doing fine at this moment and we have a bit of experience in there (midfield),” added O’Neill.
“But hopefully in the next few months his time will come but he’s a nice footballer. We do have some options at this moment.
“The games are very important and it’s not a matter of blooding someone in this type of game.”
Current number one Darren Randolph is the only capped goalkeeper in the squad right now and when asked if that’s a cause for concern, the Ireland boss responded:
“That’s absolutely true, it would be because you’re talking about two very inexperienced young men and particularly in the case of young Lawlor, who hasn’t played that much at all.
“He’s just coming back and he’s feeling not so bad. He was brought into the U21 squad but he’s coming later this evening and will join up with us but naturally if anything happens that will be a problem. It will be something that we have to consider if the worse comes to the worst.”
It’s over a year since Rooney was first introduced to the international fold, but he has yet to make his senior debut after picking up an injury at the back-end of last season, so the 28-year-old Dubliner will be eager to impress this week.
When you think about it we have a dearth of goalscorers in this side but it’s not been a problem that has just been around for a year,” O’Neill explained.
“Even with the exit of Robbie Keane, you’d have to look to see who could take on this mantle. This is something we were talking about before, it’s very important for someone to step up and say ‘listen, you know what, I can score these goals’.
“Kevin Doyle has missed the last couple of games. He is coming back and I think he probably will be fit for the weekend at club level but he has missed a few so Adam steps in there and if he gets an opportunity. Go and take it.”Source: FAI TV/YouTube
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