Long edges towards full fitness
Ronald Koeman has ruled Shane Longlout of action for Southampton's Premier League tussle with Sunderland but raised some hope for Martin O'Neill in advance of the Euro 2016 play-off with Bosnia next week.
Long suffered a reaction in his injured ankle in midweek but was still a marginal call for the trip to Sunderland which would suggest that an extra seven days might make all the difference. "Shane is still missing. He was close to coming back and he was able to do some training with the first-team on Wednesday," said Koeman.
"But he is still not 100 per cent. He needs to be 100 per cent to be part of our squad and so he is not involved for the weekend."
O'Neill gathers his squad in Dublin on Monday and the expectation is that Long will travel for an assessment by the FAI's medical team.
In the meantime, the Ireland boss will wait nervously for action to unfold in England over the weekend and pray a squad already without John O'Shea and Jon Walters through suspension for the first-leg in Zenica is not further weakened by injury. O'Neill will be pleased to hear that O'Shea's name is in the hat for the Southampton game.
"The good news is Ola (Toivonen), Fabio (Borini), Younes (Kaboul) and John all trained," said Sam Allardyce. "With no reaction from their first training session back they will be available for selection."