Wes Hoolahan now latest concern for boss Martin O’Neill
Creative Norwich midfielder sits out training session at Abbotstown ahead of crunch game
Republic of Ireland assistant coach Roy Keane: “We’re comfortable with the players we have.” Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA
As their own problems mount, the Irish management team are unlikely to have taken too much encouragement from the news that Lukas Podolski is ruled out for Germany on Thursday.
The Galatasaray midfielder saw barely a minute of action in the two wins last month that catapulted the world champions towards Euro qualification and has started just once, against Gibraltar, since the night Ireland drew in Gelsenkirchen.
Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, meanwhile, may well end up making eight changes this time out from the team that started that game.
By the time his squad trained on Tuesday, Kevin Doyle had arrived in from the United States but Robbie Keane, like Marc Wilson, had yet to materialise, prompting a question about whether the striker would travel at all what with, a reporter wondered, his wife just having given birth to a baby.
The suspicionRoy Keane
Ireland’s captain might indeed be “all right” for Thursday but his late arrival only adds weight to the suspicion that he is not likely to feature in the starting line-up against the Germans.
With Wilson, like Seamus Coleman, bound, it seems, to be ruled out at some point, Stephen Quinn already gone, Glenn Whelan and James McClean suspended, Aiden McGeady and Stephen Ward struggling at club level and David Forde having lost out to Shay Given; the mighty DFB’s video analysis department can probably bin all but the last 30 seconds of the Gelsenkirchen game.
That was when Jeff Hendrick caught them napping and John O’Shea, popped up to score an unlikely last-gasp equaliser.
Both of them are virtually certain to start but Wes Hoolahan is the latest player to cause the manager some concern with the 33-year-old Norwich midfielder sitting out training yesterday at Abbotstown where Cyrus Christie returned to action but Coleman didn’t.
“We’re comfortable with the players we have,” said Keane. “We’re disappointed lads are carrying knocks and we’re missing a couple of players through suspension but that’s par for the course . . .”
Gordon Strachan, the Scotland manager, has been making positive noises about how this might all turn out for his charges this week.
“Well Gordon is bound to say he is optimistic . . . we all are,” said Keane. “I won’t be paying attention to the Scotland game. I will be focusing on our game.”