Callum O’Dowda says he is fit if called upon for Slovakia playoff

Bristol City winger hasn’t played since tearing abductor muscle in defeat to Finland

Callum O'Dowda insists he is fit and available for selection in the event that Stephen Kenny wants to start him in Thursday evening's Euro2020 playoff semi-final against Slovakia in Bratislava.

The 25-year-old, who travels out for the game with the rest of the squad today, says he was delighted to have started the first two Nations League matches played under the new Ireland manager and while he has been sidelined since because of the hip muscle injury that forced him off in the defeat by Finland, he is adamant that he has done enough to be a contender to start this week.

“I came off with a tear in my abductor,” says the Bristol City midfielder. “It’s a bit of a frustrating one, I’d done it before and I kind of knew that I did it. But I went through the rehab, made sure it was right and I started training. I think I’ve had eight or nine days of full training now so I probably wasn’t ready to go in the game before Nottingham Forest, but I’m feeling fully fit now. I’ve had over a full week’s training and I’m up to full fitness now.”

He is less certain about whether he would make it through the full game but points to the fact that he has done okay after having come back in similar circumstances before as a positive sign.

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“It just depends on the game, I think. I don’t think I’ve lost too much fitness over the past couple of weeks or so that I’ve been off injured, I’ve obviously maintained my fitness levels and I was out on the pitches quite early and was able to do a lot of straight line running. So it’s different for different people, but I have sometimes played 90 minutes on the back end of having a two or three week spell.”

He is certainly keen to maintain his early momentum under Kenny who has picked O’Dowda to play on the right of the front three in each of his opening two games in charge

“He’s shown a lot of faith in me and for me,” he acknowledges. “I wanted to repay that back instantly as much as I could on the pitch, obviously, in the first game. It’s a massive thing for me and I just want to do the best for him, for the country and myself.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times