Ireland’s absentee list for Wales game continues to grow

Robbie Brady wins three FAI awards but is suspended for Friday’s World Cup qualifier

Robbie Brady scores for the Republic of Ireland against Italy at Euro 2016. It was selected by the FAI as Ireland’s goal of the year. Photograph: Reuters.

Robbie Brady scores for the Republic of Ireland against Italy at Euro 2016. It was selected by the FAI as Ireland’s goal of the year. Photograph: Reuters.

 

Robbie Brady’s hat-trick of successes at the Three/FAI International Awards has only served to highlight Martin O’Neill’s growing list of problems ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Wales.

The man reckoned to be the team’s best senior and young player for last year is suspended for the visit of Chris Coleman’s side.

Less expected is the fact that a lengthy list of the manager’s other regulars now look set to miss the game through injury with the initial squad of 39 already deduced to 28 by an array knocks and niggles.

With Shane Duffy already ruled out with a foot injury, the loss of Ciaran Clark has been confirmed now too with Rafa Benítez suggesting over the weekend that it would be after the international break before the club could even gauge with some degree of certainty how long a medial knee ligament injury would will keep the defender on the sidelines.

Wes Hoolahan, meanwhile, came off early with a thigh strain as Norwich beat Barnsley and may yet be ruled out.

Caretaker manager

Norwich caretaker manager Alan Irvine expressed the hope after the game that the FAI would not even have Hoolahan travel to Dublin so that he can be assessed by the club.

“If they ask to see him of course he will go over,” he said, “but we will look to treat him here. He has a bit of a thigh strain. We don’t know how bad it is at the moment. It is a bit sore and something we have to report to Ireland. Whether they ask to see him or not I am not quite sure.”

Things looked bleak with regard to Harry Arter from the moment it became clear on Saturday that he had been omitted from Bournemouth’s matchday squad but some supporters perked up when the midfielder tweeted an airplane emoji.

Sadly, it turned out he was about to fly to Dubai, not Dublin, with his club, news effectively confirmed by team-mate Benik Afobe who posted a photograph from the flight that included Arter in the background.

Also ruled out at this stage are David McGoldrick (knee), Liam Kelly (hamstring), Rob Elliot (knee) and Paul McShane (hamstring).

With so many missing, O’Neill will have been relieved to see Shane Long get on for Southampton against Tottenham on Sunday afternoon and come away from the game unscathed.

The hope is still that James McCarthy might play a part this week despite missing Everton’s 4-0 defeat of Hull City.

James McClean started and had a hand in the third goal for West Brom as they beat Arsenal on Saturday while Aiden McGeady had another good weekend for Preston with the 30-year-old scoring a late equaliser in the team’s draw at Blackburn.

A priority

Afterwards manager Simon Grayson admitted that keeping hold of the Republic of Ireland international, who is currently on loan from Everton, has become a priority.

“We’ll do as much as we can to make sure he’s a Preston North End player next year,” said the manager.

His Preston team-mate Daryl Horgan, who won the Airtricity League Player of the Year award, has expressed his satisfaction at the way his career in England has started.

“It makes it easier to get settled,” he said, “when you get a bit of confidence from getting into the team and getting a few games. I’m delighted. The manager has put a lot of faith in me. Hopefully, I’ve been repaying it a bit.”

Brady, meanwhile, completed his hat-trick of awards when his goal against Italy in France was selected as the best scored for Ireland last year but the 25-year-old acknowledged that his current club form is something of a concern.

“Trying to get to grips with the way Burnley play has been a little bit tougher than I expected,” he said, “but I’m getting there.”

REVISED IRELAND SQUAD: Randolph, Westwood, Doyle; Coleman, Christie, Keogh, Pearce, O’Shea, Boyle, Egan, Ward; McGeady, Whelan, McCarthy, Hendrick, Brady, Hourihane, Meyler, O’Kane, Hoolahan, McClean, Hayes, Horgan, O’Dowda; Walters, Long, Murphy, Doyle.

FAI AWARD WINNERS

Senior Men: Robbie Brady (Burnley); Young Player: Robbie Brady (Burnley); Senior Women: Karen Duggan (UCD Waves); International Goal: Robbie Brady v Italy, UEFA EURO 2016); Under-21 Player: Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City); Under-19 Men: George Poynton (Bohemians); Under-19 Women: Roma McLaughlin (Shelbourne); Under-17 Men: Declan Rice (West Ham); Under17 Women: Saoirse Noonan (Cork City); Under-16 Men: Jordan Doherty (Sheffield United); Under-16 Women: Tyler Toland (Maiden City); Under-15: Callum Thompson (St Joseph’s Boys); Junior: Stephen Kelly (Newmarket Celtic); Intermediate: Mark Horgan (Avondale United); Schools: Conor McCarthy (Scoil Mhuire, Blarney); Colleges/Universities: Paul Rooney (Maynooth); Football For All: Paul McMahon (Football For All, Under-19 squad); SSE Airtricity League: Daryl Horgan; Hall of Fame: Robbie Keane.

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