Sean Maguire fit enough to play some part for Republic of Ireland
Christian Eriksen all but out with Gareth Bale a doubt for Dublin Nations League games
Sean Maguire: The Republic of Ireland striker returned to action with Preston North End after a long lay-off with a hamstring injury. INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Sean Maguire is available for the Republic of Ireland’s Nations League games against Denmark and Wales according to his club manager Alex Neil but the Preston boss cautions that the striker must be used sparingly after his long lay-off with a hamstring injury.
“He has done very limited stuff up to this point and had 20 minutes on Saturday,” says Neil. “It is really important for us, for them and for Sean that they don’t fling him in at the deep end and give him far too much.
“He would definitely be at risk of breaking down if that was the case. I’m more than confident they won’t do that and we can look after him when he comes back here. I think him being away will aid and assist Sean in his process of coming back.”
Maguire’s availability to contribute in some way over the course of the two games has added importance for Ireland manager Martin O’Neill because of his lack of attacking options. Shane Long came on for Southampton against Chelsea on Sunday after recovering from a toe injury but Jon Walters is out for the long term while Robbie Brady’s return has been delayed until after the international break.
O’Neill’s opposite number, Age Hareide, has all but ruled Christian Eriksen out of Denmark’s game in Dublin with the Norwegian suggesting he has been informed by Tottenham that the midfielder’s abdominal injury is “of a long term nature”.
“I do not think we’ll see Christian,” he says. “It’s hard to push for him to play a game when he has not played for a long time [since September 22nd], especially for a friendly match. So it is completely excluded that he plays in Herning against Austria. But really I really think both matches are out for him.
“I don’t think that we could bring him to Dublin and make him play . . . I don’t think Tottenham would be very keen on that.”
Hareide has a few options when it comes to replacing the team’s leading scorer with players like Lasse Schöne, Anders Christiansen and Pierre-Emile Hojberg amongst those in contention to start .
“Sooner or later others must show and show that they dare to join the national team,” says Hareide. “That’s why there are 23 men at the national team, because at some point a situation like this will occur. We need to find a good solution and I’m convinced that the rest of the team will work well, we know each other so well.”
Meanwhile, Gareth Bale is again a doubt for Wales’ visit to Dublin next week after the Real Madrid star came off in his club’s surprise defeat to Alaves over the weekend with what is believed to be a recurrence of a groin strain.
The 29 year-old, who has been included in the 30 strong long list for this year’s Ballon D’Or, did not train with the rest of the Wales squad in Cardiff on Monday but has not yet been ruled out of Thursday’s game against Spain.
The player will be monitored over the coming days but Sam Vokes, who has scored a couple of goals for Burnley in recent weeks, believes the team is in decent shape to cope without him if they have to.
“Gareth is massive for us,” he says, “but we’ve got a lot of players playing at the top level now. They are playing regularly as well and that can only help us. If there are players missing there are others ready to step in.
“These are exciting time for us. It’s a strong squad now and the new generation of lads coming through is great to see. The Ireland game was one of the strongest performances we’ve put in for a long time.”