MARTIN O'Neill's (inset) midfield options for the next big step in the road to Euro 2016 at Celtic Park against Scotland on November 14 have been radically reduced by the news that Glenn Whelan is facing a six week lay-off and Wes Hoolahan will be out for three.
Whelan sustained a small leg fracture during Ireland's 1-1 draw with Germany and Stoke boss Mark Hughes said: "He got a kick on the outside of his leg, and there is a slight fracture there.
"He's not been put into a plaster cast. We're going to try and manage it without that because Glenn feels he'll get back sooner.
"But the likelihood is he's going to be out for four to six weeks I'd imagine, which is a blow for Glenn obviously because he is a big part of what we're doing, and we'll miss him.
"He's been playing really well of late, but we'll get him back as soon as we can. As for Ireland, knowing Glenn he'll try and make himself available, but my feeling is the game will be too soon for him."
Norwich manager Neil Adams was similarly gloomy about Hoolahan who pulled up with an ankle injury during his club's 1-0 defeat by Fulham.
"I don't think he will need surgery but we just have to make a final decision on that. It will be a number of weeks. It's ankle ligament damage, as we first feared," he said.
Meanwhile, James McCarthy, who will expected to lead Ireland's midfield in his native Glasgow next month, only came on for seconds as substiute in Everton's Europa League stalemate against Lille last night.