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O'Neill to wait on fitness of McCarthy and Whelan, Doyle ruled out

The Ireland squad trained at Gannon Park this afternoon with three days to go until the showdown with Scotland.

O'Neill at a rainy Gannon Park this afternoon.
O'Neill at a rainy Gannon Park this afternoon.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL MUST wait on the fitness of a number of players ahead of this Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland.

The Ireland manager goes head-to-head with opposite number Gordon Strachan in the Group D clash at Celtic Park in three days’ time and there was mixed news from this afternoon’s squad update in Malahide.

Everton’s James McCarthy picked up a hamstring problem while playing for the Toffees over the weekend and flew into Dublin to allow the Irish medical staff assess the extent of the injury.

And O’Neill admitted that he has no idea whether the Glasgow-born midfielder will recover in time before revealing that full-back Stephen Ward didn’t take part in training either after picking up a knock.

“James had a problem on Sunday but he has come over and we’ll have a look at it again,” O’Neill said. “We’ll do it day-by-day really and see how he is.

“Stephen Ward sat out today as well. I think he has had a little bit of a problem since he played in Germany but he has played for Burnley and it is more precautionary than anything else.”

Crystal Palace striker Kevin Doyle has returned to his club for treatment this evening but Glenn Whelan was a surprise participant despite not being named in the 27-man squad.

Glenn Whelan 11/11/2014 Glenn Whelan at Gannon Park. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

A fractured leg appeared to rule the Stoke man out of the upcoming games against Scotland and the US but after coming through a full work-out with his club yesterday, Whelan featured at Gannon Park and could yet be in line to play some part.

“Glenn has done a little bit today,” O’Neill explained. “He did an extensive work-out yesterday at Stoke and following on today so he doesn’t feel so bad. Again, that’s really day-by-day. He hasn’t done very much since the Germany game.

Let’s see how things develop over the next couple of days. This is only Tuesday and we’ve got a few days still to negotiate.”

O’Neill has a big call to make at centre-half as another Potter, Marc Wilson, is missing through a hamstring injury and Derby County captain Richard Keogh, Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark and Reading’s Alex Pearce will be hoping to impress their manager this week.

It is undoubtedly a blow, but these things are part and parcel of football.

“Obviously we have a decision to make as Wilson has been very good for us in the games that we’ve played,” he said. “He is a loss as he has been playing very well for some time but that’s the nature of the game. You know these things will happen.

“We were missing two influential players against Germany and had to play a midfielder at right back. We have to adjust all the time and adjustments are something we are almost used to.”

David McGoldrick and Cyrus Christie 11/11/2014 Ireland's latest additions David McGoldrick (left) and Cyrus Christie. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

There were also two new faces present in the shape of Ipswich Town striker David McGoldrick and Derby County full-back Cyrus Christie, who both received call-ups for the first time after sorting out passport last week.

And while neither are likely to make their debuts until the US game four days after the meeting with Scotland, O’Neill expressed his delight to finally have them on board.

“They have just come into the squad and have got to know each other and the rest of the squad. This is the first day that they have trained. It might be asking a lot (to play them against Scotland). Seamus (Coleman) at this minute is recovering from an injury himself but he seems to be okay. But the two lads have got talent and that’s the main thing.

“The backroom staff and the FAI have done remarkably well. The two lads have been showing great willingness themselves and finally it has come to fruitition.”

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Ben Blake

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