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'We're very happy that she's taken the risk to take this path for us' - Ireland boss welcomes centurion's U-turn

Áine O’Gorman has ended her international retirement, but there’s bad injury news on Manchester City star Megan Campbell.

Áine O'Gorman celebrates winning the league with Peamount.
Áine O'Gorman celebrates winning the league with Peamount.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

IRELAND BOSS VERA Pauw says centurion Áine O’Gorman can bring “a lot of experience” and “impact” to the squad after ending her international retirement.

The Peamount United midfielder — who can also play a defensive role — had stepped away from international football in September 2018, after earning her 100th cap against Norway, but has been included in the Ireland squad for their upcoming crucial back-to-back Euro 2021 qualifiers.

At a press conference today, Pauw confirmed that management made the first approach to the 30-year-old, while the Girls In Green have been dealt severe injury blows in defence.

Manchester City defender Megan Campbell has been ruled out — “it is a nasty injury, but I’m not sure if I can give details about that for private reasons, of course. It looks like it will not be a short-term injury, unfortunately,” Pauw said on the Drogheda native, who has had her fair share of struggles in the past — while Celtic star Keeva Keenan is also sidelined.

2019 Women’s National League-winning captain O’Gorman is a welcome boost, though.

“Áine can bring in a lot of experience, that is the key reason why we’ve asked her to be available for us,” Pauw said. “Megan Campbell and Keeva Keenan are both full-backs, and that’s what we need. Obviously Áine can give the experience in the back that we need there.

We would not bring her in if we did not have the idea that she could have an impact on the pitch as a full-back. A player like that, you don’t bring in to not have intentions with her. The approach came from me. We’ll see if it turns out if she will play but we’ve discussed it openly with her and she’s very happy to make herself available.

“Obviously we would not bring her in if we didn’t have the intention to really find that out; whether she would be a starter.

“We’re very happy that she’s taken the risk to take this path for us. She’s doing it for us and we’re very, very happy with that and grateful.”

O’Gorman was this evening at the squad’s home-based training session at FAI HQ, ahead of the highly-anticipated rematch with Greece in Dublin on Thursday, 5 March [KO 7.15pm, Tallaght Stadium], while they face Group I minnows Montenegro five days later.

Dutch boss Pauw has named an initial 26-strong provisional squad for the double-header, though it will be trimmed down to 23.

vera-pauw Pauw during today's press conference. Source: Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO

Unbeaten in their campaign so far, the Girls In Green secured an opening round 2-0 win over Montenegro under interim management, before Pauw took charge and they beat second seeds Ukraine 3-2. A perfect start on home soil was hampered, however, in Athens as the Greeks scored a late, late equaliser.

The result meant Ireland stay second place in Group I as they look to qualify for a first-ever major tournament, but it came as a blow to their chances of picking up one of the automatic qualifying places available to the three best runners-up. The play-off route is the other option for England 2021 qualification.

Runaway Group I leaders Germany have four wins from four with 31 goals scored and none conceded, so it looks like they have top spot wrapped up already. Ireland are next with seven points from three games, while Greece trail by three. Montenegro and Ukraine are yet to get off the mark. 

“We need the full points, we need six points,” Pauw said of the upcoming two matches. “It’s not that we will be out if we draw in one of these games, but it will make life very difficult for us.

“We’ve not lost anything with the draw in Greece, but we have to win. We have no buffer any more, that’s probably the only loss [of points] that we have. But if we win at home and we win away against Montenegro, we’ve got the same starting position against Ukraine as we would have had if we won in Greece.

That’s a tough task in itself. We are confident that we can do that, we are confident that we have a very strong squad and we will do everything that it takes together to gain a result.

3,500 tickets have been sold for the Greece clash already, after a record crowd of 5,328 attended the Ukraine win in October.

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Emma Duffy

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