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Friday 18 August 2017

Jon Walters a big worry for Republic of Ireland's crunch encounter with Poland

Irish boss has winger injury woes

Jonathan Walters of Stoke City receives treatment during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City
Jonathan Walters of Stoke City receives treatment during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City

Euro 2016

MARTIN O'Neill is facing into a most anxious week on the injury front as Jonathan Walters is now a major doubt for the Euro 2016 qualifier at home to Poland.

The Irish squad are due to report for duty in Dublin next Sunday but while there was some good news for the Ireland boss over the weekend, with Stephen Ward making his first appearance in 15 weeks as a sub for Burnley in their surprise win over Manchester City on Saturday, O'Neill has a number of issues to deal with before he trims down his 35-man provisional squad.

The FAI will hope to get medical updates this week from Aston Villa (Ciarán Clark) and Rotherham United (Paul Green) after their Irish players were substituted early in the second half of their weekend games.

At least they played for their clubs, which cannot be said for some other squad members and it's a concern for O'Neill that Aiden McGeady (Everton), Robbie Brady (Hull), David McGoldrick (Ipswich) and Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff), all named in the provisional squad, were not even on the bench for their clubs as that quartet all battle with injury.

But it was the sight of Walters leaving the field 68 minutes into Stoke's poor defeat at the hands of West Brom which will really concern the Ireland boss.

"It's Jon Walters that we're worried about, as we suspect that he's fractured his cheek. It's disappointing to get another injury, but we'll get him properly checked out - obviously that would be a massively blow for us," said Stoke manager Mark Hughes, who finished the game with 10 men as all three subs had been used with Walters was forced to come off, having suffered under a challenge from Craig Dawson.

Walters was almost certain to start against the Poles and his absence could force a change of plan.

There was some progress over the weekend for younger Irish players. Current U19 cap Reece Grego-Cox made another Premier League appearance for QPR in their defeat away to QPR, while Josh Cullen was promoted to the bench by West Ham boss Sam Allardyce for their loss at Arsenal.

Cullen initially represented his native England at U16 level but then declared for Ireland and was capped at U19 level.

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