Martin O’Neill facing goalkeeping headache ahead of playoffs

Shay Given has been ruled out of Bosnia and Herzegovina as he undergoes surgery

Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given goes down injured during the Euro 2016 qualifier against Germany at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given goes down injured during the Euro 2016 qualifier against Germany at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

Shay Given is set to miss both legs of Ireland’s Euro 2016 play-off with Bosnia and Herzegovina this month as he prepares to undergo kneee surgery.

Given limped off during Ireland’s 1-0 win over Germany at Lansdowne Road last month, where he was replaced by West Ham’s Darren Randolph.

Randolph then went on to start in Ireland’s final qualifier against Poland and will be expected to do so again when Martin O’Neill’s side travel to Zenica.

Given did return to the Stoke City bench for their Capital One Cup win over Chelsea last week but, after again aggravating his knee in training, he will now have to be operated on.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes said: “He was in training the other day and unfortunately after training his knee blew up.

“He has got a piece of loose bone in the knee, which we hoped would just settle down. But it has raised its head again and it looks like he might have to have a procedure to deal with it.

“I am not sure if that decision has been made yet but that is probably what will happen. He won’t be available for that (play-off). I will be very surprised.”

O’Neill’s goalkeeping conundrum doesn’t stop there however. Newcastle United’s Rob Elliot is struggling with a thigh problem after keeping a clean sheet against Stoke on Saturday.

Following the sides’ scoreless draw Steve McClaren said Elliot is “a major doubt” for next week’s clash with Bournemouth.

If the 29-year-old was to be ruled out of Saturday’s lunchtime fixture it would be unlikely that he would be cleared to travel to Zenica.

That occurance would also leave Newcastle in the rare situation of being allowed by the FA to make an emergency loan signing as both of their other first team goalkeepers – Tim Krul and Karl Darlow – are both sidelined with injuries.

With Sheffield Wednesday’s Keiren Westwood struggling with an injury O’Neill is left with just two fit goalkeepers – Randolph and David Forde – both of whom are out of favour at their respective clubs.

James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman both played the full 90 minutes for Everton in their 6-2 win over Sunderland on Sunday while Aiden McGeady continues to be frozen out by Roberto Martinez. The winger hasn’t played for his club since August and yet again didn’t even make the bench as Everton moved up to ninth in the Premier League table.

As expected Shane Long didn’t make the Southampton squad for their clash with Bournemouth but is expected to be fit for the play-offs, along with John O’Shea although the Sunderland man will miss the second leg through suspension.

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