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'Trust me, if Shane says he will be okay, then he will be okay' - McCarthy

The Ireland boss has allayed concerns over the Brighton defender’s fitness ahead of next month’s vital Slovakia clash.

Shane Duffy (file pic).
Shane Duffy (file pic).
Image: Mark Kerton

IRELAND BOSS MICK McCarthy has played down concerns over Shane Duffy’s injury ahead of next month’s vital Euro 2020 play-off semi-final with Slovakia.

The Brighton centre-back is currently out injured and is set to be out for a couple of weeks, having had surgery to remove a blood clot in his leg, but McCarthy has assured fans that he will be ready for the clash in Bratislava on 26 March.

“I have spoken to Shane and he tells me he will be fine — trust me, if Shane says he will be okay then he will be okay as he has proven to me already in this campaign,” the Irish boss told FAI.ie.

“It was a minor operation and Shane has told me it was better to get it done now and out of the way before we start to work on our preparation for the Slovakia game. That’s good enough for me.”

McCarthy also had words of encouragement for Shane Long. The 33-year-old has been left out of Ireland’s recent squads, but the striker’s form at club level has improved of late, with the Tipperary native scoring his second goal of the season in the FA Cup against Tottenham on Wednesday night.

“I am sure people are fed up of me talking about the need for Shane to play first-team football, but that is exactly what I have been saying to Shane since I got the job,” he said.

“He’s been very unlucky with the timing of some of his injuries in the past year. Shane had to withdraw from my first squad with an injury and then missed out again in the summer after reporting in to camp in Dublin.

“I’ve kept in touch with him and kept him in the picture regarding his need for first-team football. He’s back in regular action now with Southampton and his goal at Spurs on Wednesday night was a real poacher’s goal, he was in the right place at the right time.

“Shane is playing again and scoring again and that means he is pushing all the right buttons ahead of Slovakia.”

McCarthy also suggested Portsmouth’s Ronan Curtis could be in contention for the Bratislava trip.

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The former Derry City player recently extended his contract at Pompey. He is the club’s top scorer with 13 goals and registered two assists, as they beat promotion rivals Sunderland 2-0 on Saturday.

“Ronan is flying with Portsmouth and, like Shane and Michael Obafemi at Southampton, we have been keeping a close eye on him in recent weeks. He had a bit of a dip in form earlier this season but he has really bounced back in style.

“He can score goals, as he has proven with 13 now for this campaign. Ronan is having a great season and he is right back in the frame for the game in Bratislava.”

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Paul Fennessy

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