Jeff Hendrick ruled out of crunch Serbia qualifier
Martin O’Neill hoping Ireland’s ‘great, great spirit’ will be enough against group leaders
Jeff Hendrick underwent a scan on Monday ahead of Ireland’s clash with Serbia in Dublin on Tuesday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Jeff Hedrick is out of Ireland’s game against Serbia on Tuesday evening with the Burnley midfielder having failed in his bid to prove his fitness after returning to the camp to work with FAI medical staff over the weekend.
“He did some work with the medical team,” confirmed Martin O’Neill at his pre-match press conference. “He’s still feeling it a little bit when he goes full out so he misses out.”
Some of O’Neill’s existing attacking options are also under threat with Wes Hoolahan and Aiden McGeady both struggling to overcome strains. The pair both took some part in training at Abbotstown but Hoolahan, the manager said, has a “slight tightness,” in his groin while the medical staff are waiting for the Sunderland midfielder to have a scan on a hamstring before making a call on his fitness to play.
The problems may limit O’Neill’s scope to change the team that started in Tbilisi but whatever he does he is clearly hoping for, and expecting, the performance against the group leaders to be very different to the one produced on Saturday night.
“We’ve got to try to analyse what happened in the game itself, where we made a few mistakes, where we could have done better; try to rectify it, try to do better.
“We are going to try to win the game. We’re in there fighting, we are unbeaten in the group, it’s hard to believe that... we’re unbeaten in the group. We’re going to try and win the game and if we do that, we set ourselves up for a grandstand finish. If we can’t win the game, we’re going to try and get something out of the game.
“When you think of the nights that we have had here at the Aviva: Germany, the play-off against Bosnia, the fight-backs and the grandstand finishes, we have to reflect on all of that.
“We may not be the most talented outfit that has played for the Republic of Ireland - that might be going back to Jack Charlton’s time when there were players were playing in the higher echelons of the big leagues - but we have great, great spirit and I think that will help us tomorrow night.
“I think that the players have shown in the last couple of seasons a great determination In games where we’ve been kind of - what shall I say? - not having as much possession as the other side, but we seem to have found a way to pull it around. That will be uppermost in our thoughts for tomorrow evening.”