O'Neill finalises Ireland squad for Nations League matches
Stephen Ward went to see a specialist on Monday over a persistent knee injury
Stephen Ward will not be involved against Denmark or Wales. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Graham Burke and Alan Judge are amongst the players to miss out as Martin O’Neill finalised a squad of 26 for the Nations League games against Denmark and Wales over the coming week.
Both players scored for Ireland in the friendly against the USA at the start of the season but neither makes the cut on this occasion.
Greg Cunningham, Daryl Horgan, Richie Towell and Ronan Curtis are all also omitted from the final group while Stephen Ward, who it had been suggested might be called in, misses out due to an ongoing knee problem.
Shane Long sat out the squad’s first training of the week, an open session in front of a small crowd at the Aviva stadium on Tuesday morning. The Southampton striker had been sidelined by a toe injury but came on for his club at the weekend, however the FAI have listed his problem as a knock to his ankle.
Another player to get on at the weekend, Jeff Hendrick, admits the two games will be tough, not least the visit of the Danes this weekend, but he says the better performance by the team in Poland last month has gone some way towards restoring the team’s collective confidence.
“It going to be tough, after our last game (against Wales), these two teams played each other and we saw the result that day, 2-0 (to Denmark). We had a tough game against them (last year) but it could have been a little different. We went a goal up and we had a crazy 20 minutes and we were out of the game.
“This (playing them again) is a big opportunity. We’ve got to take whatever positives we can (from that game), take some positives from the Poland game and try to get some payback.”
Republic of Ireland squad:
Defenders: Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long (Burnley), John Egan, Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers)
Midfielders: Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Shaun Williams (Millwall), David Meyler (Reading), Harry Arter (Cardiff City*), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City)
*Indicates player is on loan