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Dublin: -2 °C Sunday 18 March, 2018

Ireland handed major fitness boost ahead of vital Austria qualifier

James McClean and John O’Shea took full part in training today.

James McClean looks set to be fit for Ireland's World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
James McClean looks set to be fit for Ireland's World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

THERE WAS GOOD news for Martin O’Neill and Ireland today, as James McClean and John O’Shea look set to be winning their respective fitness races ahead of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Austria.

The pair had been considered doubtful but both took a full part in training today at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown.

O’Shea has been an excellent servant to Ireland over the years and the Sunderland defender’s experience both on and off the pitch is considered invaluable.

McClean, meanwhile, has developed into an important player for Ireland during this campaign, scoring twice in the recent 3-1 win away to Moldova.

Both players are now in contention to start at the Ernst-Happel Stadium this weekend (kick-off: 5pm).

This development will come as some relief to O’Neill who has had to make do without a number of important players for the trip to Austria, including James McCarthy, Shane Long, Stephen Ward and Daryl Murphy.

However, the news was not so positive for Eunan O’Kane, who had been another doubt coming into this international week.

The Derry native has returned to his club Leeds, with a groin strain ruling him out of the trip to Vienna, while the other 27 squad members flew out to Austria today.

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