herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Henderson is handed his Ireland chance

Stephen Henderson Of Charlton Athletic makes a save during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Charlton Athletic
Stephen Henderson Of Charlton Athletic makes a save during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Charlton Athletic

A goalkeeper from London and a referee from Germany have moved centre-stage ahead of Ireland's battle with Bosnia tomorrow night.

The fitness of Shane Long has been the main injury worry for Martin O'Neill this week, the manager finally admitting defeat last night in terms of Long's availability for the first leg, but the goalkeeping position has also been a concern.

Already missing Shay Given due to injury, O'Neill has now see back-up keepers Rob Elliot and Keiren Westwood withdraw with injuries, so Charlton Athletic man Stephen Henderson has been drafted in for this afternoon's flight to Sarajevo.

Henderson, back in the Addicks side having missed the start of the season due to injury, remains uncapped at senior level, despite a number of close calls.

He's been an unused six for six games, under Giovanni Trapattoni (v Czech Republic, Oman, Poland, Wales) and caretaker Noel King (v Germany, Kazakhstan) but has been unable to make the squad on any sort of regular basis in Martin O'Neill's two-year reign.

Darren Randolph is guaranteed to start but Henderson, yet to be capped at the age of 27, will work hard to move up the ladder ahead of David Forde. Forde, 35, was dropped by the Lions after a 4-0 league defeat in August but got back in the side for an FA Cup tie last week.

Meanwhile, UEFA have confirmed that German official Felix Brych wil be in charge of the game in Zenica tomorrow.

Anoraks among the Ireland support will recall a couple of brushes with the referee before. He was in charge of the home leg of Ireland's ill-fated World Cup play-off against France in 2009, when a Nicolas Anelka goal in the second half won the game for the French.

Brych was also the man in the middle for the Republic's 0-0 draw away to Russia in 2011.

Meanwhile, Irish League side Glentoran have appointed former Ireland international Alan Kernaghan as their new boss.

Kernaghan had been working on the coaching staff of the Irish FA in Belfast but now the Glens have turned to the ex-defender, capped 22 times by the Republic (1992-96) as their new manager. He previously managed Dundee and Brentford, and also coached at Rangers.

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