Martin O’Neill confirms Callum O’Dowda will miss Wales clash

Ireland boss could revert to back four for Wales as he waits on Shane Long fitness

Martin O’Neill will have to make at least one change to the side that drew with Denmark on Saturday night, with Bristol City midfielder Callum O’Dowda having been ruled out of the game against Wales as a result of the blow to the head he took during the first half.

The 23 year-old would, the Ireland manager said, be omitted as a precaution and he hinted at the possibility at other changes with Shane Long’s fitness yet to be completely confirmed up front and O’Neill, it seems, still weighing up the possibility of reverting to a flat back four.

Wales will be without four of the side that started the 4-1 win in Cardiff including two of their stand out stars, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey.

The Real Madrid star has been struggling with a muscle injury for a couple of weeks while the Arsenal midfielder has been allowed to stay at home after his partner gave birth to twins at the weekend. Ethan Ampadu, who did exceptionally well in the game last month, and Chris Mepham are also ruled out by injury


“Bale is a real world class player,” acknowledged O’Neill when asked whether the visitors being without so many players might have the potential to tip things in Ireland’s favour, “and Ramsey is a top quality player so I’m sure they will be blows for Wales.

“Maybe as a consequence it should be okay for us in that sense but I keep going back to it, we’ve got players who would usually start for us who have been out for some considerable time. We’ve had to make do (without them) for quite some time now.”

The bottom line, he suggested, is that the players selected have to improve on Saturday’s performance against Denmark although he rejected the idea that a more positive team selection was required from him.

“We are playing at home and need to get on the front foot as quickly as possible so as to try and dictate the game. But it doesn’t always work out like that. Sometimes exceptionally talented players in the opposition can force you back.

"We played a very attacking side against Denmark the other night, though. The two wing backs who like to get forward and Jeff (Hendrick) who plays in that role for Burnley off Shane Long. Sometimes if you're really going for it and things don't come off, you're put under pressure.

“We allowed Denmark to have too much possession, although they didn’t cause us too many problems because a lot of it was in their own half,” he said.

“Still, sometimes you have to start making inroads into them, getting closer to goal and getting possession there.

“Wales have the players and the talent but we’ll try and learn from last month where they beat us convincingly. We’ve got to try and be more creative if we can be. We’ve got to try and use the ball in the final third and be confident on it.

“I think it’s a lot of things. . .international football is a step up from club level and it’s about making that adjustment in a game. It’s not always as easy as that.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times