James McCarthy fit and included in Ireland squad for playoffs

Martin O’Neill also said that Seamus Coleman could be back in action in December

James McCarthy looks set to be fit for Ireland’s World Cup playoff with Denmark after returning to first team action with Everton on Wednesday night. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

James McCarthy looks set to be fit for Ireland’s World Cup playoff with Denmark after returning to first team action with Everton on Wednesday night. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Martin O’Neill says that he has not completely given up hope that Jon Walters may yet play some part in the World Cup playoffs against Denmark next month but the Burnley striker has not been named in the Republic of Ireland manager’s initial squad of 34 players.

Kevin Doyle is the one player named for the final two group games to miss out this time with the striker having retired since but Alan Browne, Matt Doherty and Paul McShane are all included as O’Neill adds slightly to his options in midfield and defence.

James McCarthy is again included and the Everton midfielder looks to have a very real chance of featuring this time having featured for his club in both a recent under-23 game and Wednesday night’s League Cup game against Chelsea.

Walters, though, remains a huge doubt with the 34 year-old still sidelined by the ongoing knee problem that kept him out of the win in Wales. “I haven’t put him in at the moment but he’s making good progress,” said O’Neill as he announced his squad, “so we’ll see what the next 10 days bring. He has made exceptionally good progress but we’ll see.”

O’Neill said that Seamus Coleman is definitely out of both games but could return to action as early as December after missing over a year wtih a broken leg. meanwhile, McCarthy is well on course to make a return havig come through those run outs for Everton, most obviously the game at Stamford Bridge. “I’m pleased, I was at the game,” said O’Neill. “He played for an hour and it looked that would be the case. It was a good hour against good opposition. It’s encouraging and see if he comes out of it okay then it’s good news for us, very good news.”

O’Neill says that he has been busy sizing up the Danes since the draw was made and that he has been impressed with what has seen of them in recent days with Ireland’s play-off opponents much improved, he believes, on the side that lost to Sweden at the same stage of Euro2016 two years ago.

“Absolutely, it’s what I’m spending my time on,” he said. “They will be tough games, no question. (Christian) Eriksen is playing out of his skin at the moment, he is a really, really good player.

“Somebody said to be outside just now that their manager thinks he might be the difference between two teams and that could be right. Delaney is exceptionally good and John claiming responsibility. But they are very strong and much better than when played that playoff agaist Sweden in Euros. They are better equipped now, stronger and more physical and with some exceptional players. It will be really tough for us but I’m hoping it will be really tough for them.”

Republic of Ireland squad to face Denmark in 2018 World Cup playoffs (November 11th and 14th):

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), Colin Doyle (Bradford City)

Defenders: Cyrus Christie (Middlesbrough), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Paul McShane (Reading), 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), Daryl Horgan, Alan Browne (Preston North End), Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), James McCarthy (Everton), Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United), David Meyler (Hull City), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Jonny Hayes (Celtic), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion)

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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