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Sean Maguire included in finalised Ireland squad for crunch World Cup qualifiers

There have long been calls for the Preston star’s inclusion with the Boys in Green struggling for goals of late.

Image: EMPICS Sport

Updated at 18.30

PRESTON’S SEAN MAGUIRE has been included in the final Ireland squad for the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Moldova.

Maguire, who is still the League of Ireland’s top scorer in 2017 with 20 goals despite leaving Cork City to move to the Championship side in the summer, had previously failed to get further than provisional Ireland squads.

However, with Ireland desperately needing a win in both of their final two games against Wales and Moldova, Martin O’Neill has placed faith in the 23-year-old striker.

Robbie Brady and James McClean are both included despite being suspended for the Moldova game, with both players expected to be involved against Wales.

In addition to Maguire, two other uncapped players, Millwall’s Aiden O’Brien and Aston Villa’s Scott Hogan, have also retained their places among the strikers.

Jon Walters has already been ruled out through injury, while Kevin Doyle also drops out from the provisional squad, having unexpectedly announced his retirement last week.

Keiren Westwood (ribs) will not be available, but there’s better news for other players who had been doubtful.

David McGoldrick (hamstring), Harry Arter (calf), Shane Long (dead leg), Eunan O’Kane (ribs), Jonathan Hayes (ankle) and James McCarthy (hamstring) were concerns in recent days.

However, despite Everton boss Ronald Koeman’s misgivings about the player coming back from a long spell out, McCarthy took a full part in training today.

Harry Arter, meanwhile, trained on his own this afternoon, while the four others mentioned are expected to recover in time for the upcoming matches.

On the players in question, O’Neill said at his press conference today: “Obviously, Harry didn’t play at the weekend, but he thinks he will be ready to go on Friday.

“Eunan O’Kane played with a pain-killing injection – he’s got cracked ribs – but he played with a pain-killing injection for Leeds at the weekend. Obviously he’s sitting that out and we’ll see how he is.

“Shane Long got a dead leg at the weekend, we’ll see how he is as well, but he’s not feeling too bad.”

On the McCarthy situation, O’Neill said in response to Koeman’s reservations about the player featuring in the upcoming days that the midfielder “doesn’t want to be ruled out at the moment,” adding:

“Given the amount of time that James has been out, and he picked up the injury at club level, I would have thought that Everton would be quite pleased that he is out of the environment for a little while, training with the international boys and see how things go.

“And beyond that, if he’s feeling pretty decent then I would have thought that that’s something that Everton would have been quite looking forward to.”

Ireland face Moldova at the Aviva Stadium on 6 October, before travelling to play Wales at Cardiff City Stadium three days later, with six points a must in order to keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive.

Republic of Ireland MNT Squad

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), Colin Doyle (Bradford City)
Defenders: Cyrus Christie (Middlesbrough), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Kevin Long, Stephen Ward (Burnley)
Midfielders: Aiden McGeady (Sunderland), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion), Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady (Burnley), James McCarthy (Everton), David Meyler (Hull City), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City), Jonathan Hayes (Celtic), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Daryl Horgan (Preston North End)
Forwards: Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest), David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town), Sean Maguire (Preston North End), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Aiden O’Brien (Millwall)

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Paul Fennessy

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