Ryan Manning. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
passed fit

Ryan Manning links up with Irish squad ahead of Belgium friendly

O’Shea says coaching Ireland tomorrow will be a huge honour.

SOUTHAMPTON DEFENDER RYAN Manning has linked up with the Ireland squad ahead of tomorrow’s friendly against Belgium in Dublin. 

Manning underwent a minor procedure at his club and so was omitted from the initial squad list, but he has recovered sufficiently to link up with the squad. His return offers Ireland more depth at left-back, and he will vie for inclusion with Robbie Brady and Callum O’Dowda. 

John O’Shea confirmed Ireland have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game, with Liam Scales and Troy Parrott ruled out at the start of the week. 

O’Shea is in interim charge for tomorrow’s game, along with Tuesday’s friendly against Switzerland, with Stephen Kenny’s permanent successor to be unveiled in April. 

“It’s an incredible honour to be manager of your country”, said O’Shea ahead of the game. “To get the chance to represent Ireland from U15 onwards and all the levels, captain your country the chance to be involved coaching with the U21s and the senior team and now being manager, it’s amazing, one that myself and my family are really proud of.” 

O’Shea will pick his team and inform the players later today, but was giving away very little at his pre-game press conference. Of the new call-ups, Sammie Szmodics looks most likely to make his debut from the start, with Finn Azaz and Jake O’Brien in the mix from the bench.

“We have plenty of players playing and plenty of substitutes to finish the game and be as strong as you were when you started”, said O’Shea. “The good thing is there are good players in form and it’s a nice problem to have in a good few positions.” 

Belgium are without headline stars Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, and Thibaut Courtois thorough injury. 

A crowd of around 40,000 people are expected at the game, with tickets still on sale as part of a double-header with the Swiss game on Tuesday. 

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