Martin O’Neill confident of squad fitness ahead of Bosnia clash
Stephen Quinn will miss out on next month’s Euro 2016 play-offs through injury
Martin O’Neill, with Bosnia-Herzegovina head coach Mehmed Bazdarevic, has named a provisional squad for the Euro 2016 play-offs.
Martin O’Neill is without Reading midfielder Stephen Quinn for the European Championship play-off games against Bosnia and Herzegovina but the Republic of Ireland manager says he is confident about the fitness of most his other players ahead of the game.
John O’Shea, Shane Long and Shay Given are amongst the players who have been affected by injury over the last couple of weeks but the northerner says that all are on course to be fit for the two games even if the Sunderland defender misses the away leg due to suspension.
“John has a bit of a hamstring problem but my understanding of it is that it’s a grade one tear which is clearly better than a grade three,” he said. “Shane is optimistic but then Shane’s always optimistic. Even if he does feel that he’s absolutely fine then it’s a matter of getting back into the (Southampton) side at a time that they’ve been doing well.
“I expect that Shay will declare himself fit,” he said, meanwhile, although he suggested that the he has choices to make in a department where nobody has let him down but none of those who have led the international pecking order has been playing remotely regularly for their clubs.
“David Forde did not do anything wrong for us during my time but he’s not playing for Millwall. And Darren came in and did very, very well against Germany; he would have been entitled to be nervous but he took it all very much in his stride.”
O’Neill went on to acknowledge the claims of Rob Elliott who is currently playing at Newcastle and Keiren Westwood who sat out Sheffield Wednesday’s win last night over Arsenal but who should be back in contention for the weekend.
Alan Judge, he suggested, continues to play his way into contention with the Brentford midfielder impressing on a number of occasions in recent months.
“He’s been doing very, very well,” he said. “I’ll have another look at him on Friday against QPR but the three times I’ve seen him he’s done really well. These matches may not be the time to throw somebody in but he has done very well.”
Overall, he insists, he is happy enough with the situation as it stands going into the games. “They are a very strong team with some really fine players in some big leagues but we’re going into the game with a lot of confidence.
“We have a few problems but nothing insurmountable. There isn’t a game that you go into without some injury or the occasional suspension. Those are just things that you have to cope with over the course of a tournament.”
The FAI say, meanwhile, that while premium level seats continue to be available, the next round of general sale tickets for the home game will go on sale next Monday although it is unclear at this point how many will be made available.
Republic of Ireland squad: David Forde (Millwall), Shay Given (Stoke City), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Randolph (West Ham United), Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Marc Wilson (Stoke City), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Derby County),John O’Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce (Derby County), Shane Duffy (Blackburn Rovers), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Paul McShane (Reading), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Greg Cunningham (Preston North End), Robbie Brady (Norwich City), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County), Darron Gibson (Everton), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Eunan O’Kane (Bournemouth), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Paul Green (Rotherham United), Aiden McGeady (Everton), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion), Alan Judge (Brentford), Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff City), David Meyler (Hull City), Jonathan Walters (Stoke City), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), Anthony Stokes (Celtic), David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen), Simon Cox (Bristol City).