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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Given's Euro fate rests on scan

Stoke City goalkeeper Shay Given and Ireland teammate Gelnn Whelan look dejected after conceding the opening goal from Manchester City's Fernando at the Etihad Stadium Photo: PA
Stoke City goalkeeper Shay Given and Ireland teammate Gelnn Whelan look dejected after conceding the opening goal from Manchester City's Fernando at the Etihad Stadium Photo: PA

Shay Given will learn in the next 24 hours if a groin injury has ended his hopes of playing at Euro 2016.

The 40-year-old was substituted at half time during Stoke City's 4-0 loss to Manchester City on Saturday, Stoke already 2-0 down when Given was forced to leave the action.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes later revealed that Given felt a twinge early in the first half but tried to play on before Hughes made the call and withdrew him at the break. Given, who had only just returned to action after a six-month absence following a knee injury, will undergo a scan at his club today and while he has not yet given up hope of being fit in time to make the squad, he now faces a major battle to get in any more game time with his club even if he is able to return from the groin injury.

"He felt his groin about 20 minutes in. He felt he could get to half-time, but couldn't continue after that," says Hughes, his own position as Stoke boss being questioned after a run of three straight defeats, the Potters leaking in 12 goals in those three games.

Hughes has not given up hope of the Ireland veteran being fit for the weekend game against Swansea City - Jon Walters also hopes to make his return from injury in that game - but if he's not available, Given would then have only one league match to prove his match fitness.

With all three of his established keepers - Given, Darren Randolph and David Forde - now unlikely to play for their clubs before the end of the club season, attention will focus again on Keiren Westwood.

The 31-year-old has been frozen out in recent months by Martin O'Neill and hasn't even featured in the squad since the qualifying draw at home to Scotland 10 months ago.

O'Neill and his staff have been keeping tabs on Wednesday lately, mainly to see how Aiden McGeady is faring and it was encouraging to see him make his return to the Owls' starting XI for Saturday's 1-1 draw with Derby County as McGeady had missed their previous two games with a hamstring complaint.

With just two games left in the regular season, a win against Cardiff City next weekend would see the Owls definitely make the play-offs, Westwood pleased with his own form in a season where he's kept 12 clean sheets in 33 games, close to a club record.

"I'm not looking at the record, if we win 2-1 next week I'm not bothered as long as we win. "We played well on Saturday, I was happy with my performance and with the rest of the lads, we worked our tails off and got done by a header at the back post," he said after the draw with Derby.

"It was a good point and we move on to next week, we're at home to Cardiff and it's on us to take the game to them."

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