O'Neill getting 'almost hourly' updates on Shane Long, as Meyler suffers training knock

Long ‘improving’ as Ireland prepare to fly out to Zenica.

Meyler, right, came out of this morning's training session.
Meyler, right, came out of this morning's training session.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL IS giving Shane Long every chance to prove his fitness for Ireland’s play-off clash in Bosnia.

The Southampton striker remains the most significant doubt as he continues his race to be ready for Friday’s first leg.

O’Neill is receiving updates on Long’s recovery on ‘almost an hourly basis and expects a clearer picture on his ankle injury later this afternoon.

“We said that we thought it would be about 48 hours,” he explained after training in Abbotstown.

The unfortunate thing about timing here is that our training here is coinciding with some work that he is doing at this minute.

“I will be able to give you a better picture in the next couple of hours.

“He is improving, he feels that. Obviously our doctor and the doctor and physio at Southampton are keeping us informed on almost an hourly, if not a daily, basis.”

With just over 48 hours remaining until kick-off in Zenica, O’Neill agreed with Roy Keane that it will be a bonus if any of Ireland’s injuries clear up before then.

Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot will not travel with the squad and Paul McShane has also been ruled out, while John O’Shea is still fighting to be fit for Monday’s second leg.

“At the some time along the way you have to go with the players here who you know are available and can start a game for you,” O’Neill added.

If news comes through that Shane is alright, that’s a big bonus.

Elliot’s absence became slightly more of a concern when a recurring foot problem prevented Keiren Westwood from finishing this morning’s session, while David Meyler also came out of training following a collision with Marc Wilson.

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“Sometimes even when you want to be as careful as possible, things like that may happen,” O’Neill said.

(Meyler) had to come out of things. We’ll see how he is in the morning.

Alan Judge could still return to the squad while O’Shea — who is suspended for the first leg — “is making progress” with his hamstring injury, he added.

“Again, we should have an idea after training today. He’s doing something himself as well.”

‘The first day, he told me he wanted me to be his main man’

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Niall Kelly

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