Shane Duffy makes welcome return to fitness for Georgia clash

David McGoldrick ruled out of game in Tbilisi but could return against Switzerland next Tuesday

 Shane Duffy could play in Ireland’s game against Georgia in Tbilisi on Saturday after recovering from a calf strain. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Shane Duffy could play in Ireland’s game against Georgia in Tbilisi on Saturday after recovering from a calf strain. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

 

Shane Duffy is due into Dublin on Wednesday evening after being declared fit to play at least some part in Saturday’s European Championship qualifier in Tbilisi. The 27-year-old Brighton defender had been a major doubt for the trip with a calf strain but he will now fly out with the rest of the squad just after lunchtime on Thursday.

“I’ve just had a text from him saying that he has given the all clear,” said Ireland manager Mick McCarthy in an interview with the FAI’s in-house media. “He trained this morning with the [Brighton] lads so he must have done some football work, so that’s good news. He is on a flight this afternoon to travel and he will be with us to travel tomorrow.”

It is not yet clear whether McCarthy will see Duffy as a potential starter on Saturday given that he has been sidelined for a couple of weeks but the Derryman is certainly seen as an important member of the set-up and the manager sounded confident about his fitness, if only because the player himself seems to be.

“All along he has been pretty confident that he wasn’t as bad as they thought,” the manager said. “He has been running all week and he says that he trained with the team this morning, so if he has done the full training then he is fine. So hopefully he gets here safe and sound and he travels with us tomorrow.”

David McGoldrick is out of the Georgia game having failed to recover in time from a groin strain but McCarthy said he has not ruled out the possibility of the Sheffield United striker travelling directly to Geneva and playing some part in the Switzerland game next Tuesday.

“I was more optimistic about Shane because we had seen it before with his groin [at the start of the summer] when we all thought, well, us, who didn’t really know him so well . . . but the doc and the physio said, ‘you know, he’s pretty resilient and if he says he’ll be okay then he’ll be okay,’ and true to his word he is.

“I spoke to Didsy [McGoldrick] yesterday and he was still feeling it in his groin so I said to him that Saturday is going to be far too soon. But if he’s all right and it turns out that he trains over the weekend, he might still be an option in Switzerland as a sub; maybe not starting after three weeks. It would be a nice problem for me to have, for him to be there for me to pick him.”

The rest of McCarthy’s squad trained normally at Abbotstown on Wednesday with James McClean taking a full part in the session. The 24 players in the group head to Tbilisi on Thursday before travelling to Geneva on Sunday.

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