Saturday 22 October 2016

O'Neill deals with huge casualty list

Everton team-mates Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy in Ireland training yesterday.
Everton team-mates Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy in Ireland training yesterday.

There is no doubt, this is the worst tale of injury woe that Martin O'Neill has had to deal with in his time as Ireland boss.

Yesterday's announcement on the ins and outs after action in England and Scotland over the weekend took far too long and by the end of it, O'Neill was reduced to clipped answers as he scrolled down the list.

Aiden McGeady?


Daryl Murphy?


Kieren Westwood.


And so the list grew. For once, O'Neill's practice of announcing a huge provisional squad has been useful.

For the record, this is the full list of casualties.

Marc Wilson, Stephen Quinn, Anthony Pilkington, Kevin Doyle, Aiden McGeady, Keiren Westwood and Daryl Murphy

To plug the gaps, Stephen Gleeson and Jon Hayes, usually discarded at this point, stay with the squad and O'Neill has called up Adam Rooney and Ian Lawlor as cover up front and between the posts.

"It's the way it goes, it's not great, the quick turnaround as well, with the game on Thursday and then fly out the next day to Moldova," said the Ireland boss.

"It happens, you have to curse your luck and get on with it," said O'Neill.

He confirmed that Marc Wilson is not actually injured but lacking match fitness.

"Marc doesn't have a problem. He hasn't played. He is not in the side at this minute. I spoke to him recently. I went to the game, Watford and Bournemouth to see if he would make the bench, and he wasn't even on the bench," he said.

"But we are well covered in that department especially with big Duffy coming back. And his match fitness would be down because he has had one half since the Oman game.


"All the centre halves are playing (for their clubs). He has done well for us in the early part of the qualification. He just needs to get back playing. But I also said to him he has to take his time because he had the injury. He has just had a move and it takes a wee bit of time to settle in. If he gets the chance to play, then go and do it."

O'Neill welcomes Shane Duffy back after the suspension which carried over from his red card against France in Lyon.

"Shane will be in the reckoning. I went to see him play at Brighton twice, against Huddersfield and Barnsley when I also saw Conor Hourihane," he said.

"It's nice to see him, he's doing fine now. He needed a few weeks to settle in and is playing in a really decent side with plenty of confidence which helps. The centre half beside him, Dunk, helps him. Yes, he is in the reckoning."

A pleasant surprise for O'Neill after a steady drone of bad news is the fact that James McCarthy is much fitter than expected and has turned up anxious to play.

"I think it is a surprise. I've been kept up to date. I know that he's been doing some work but obviously he hasn't played for some time," he added. "He's optimistic but we'll see how the training sessions go with him. He's keen to play. If these games were coming up in ten or twelve days time I wouldn't have any problem and I don't think he would have any problem.

"It's just they've come a wee bit too quickly for him."

"He hasn't played much but isn't feeling too bad. He's been recovering from the operation and has done a lot of work. He's pretty optimistic but we'll see how that goes over the next two days."

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