Sunday 23 October 2016

Walking wounded a worry for O'Neill

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill

Given that he's likely to start up front for Ireland in Friday's Euro 2016 play-off battle in Bosnia, Daryl Murphy executed a case of good timing for Martin O'Neill (pictured) by ending his goal famine with a hat-trick for his club.

But while O'Neill, who attended yesterday's FAI Cup final along with Roy Keane, will have been encouraged by the sight of Murphy scoring for the first time this season, and also by the fact that Ciaran Clark delivered 90 minutes and a clean sheet for Aston Villa, injuries weigh heavily on the manager's mind as the squad assembled in Dublin last night and today.

O'Neill last night trimmed down his provisional 40-man squad but the fact that he's named 30 players in his squad shows how concerned he is about injuries.

Already missing Shay Given and David McGoldrick due to injury and Jon Walters and John O'Shea, due to suspension (for the first leg), the FAI stated last night that five other players (Rob Elliot, O'Shea, Paul McShane, Alan Judge, and Shane Long) would all "be assessed by their respective clubs before reporting for international duty".

Comments from their club managers suggest that Long and O'Shea will not make it while Newcastle boss Steve McClaren has made it clear he would prefer if keeper Elliot - in stunning form for Newcastle against Bournemouth - stayed at home for treatment.

So the sight of Murphy scoring three is some good news, seeing as Long is a major doubt. "In the last few games I'd had some chances, but I knew it would be a case of getting that first one and then more would come," said Murphy after his hat-trick against Rotherham.

Republic of Ireland squad v Bosnia

Goalkeepers: David Forde (Millwall), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Randolph (West Ham), Rob Elliot (Newcastle United).

Defenders: Richard Keogh, Cyrus Christie, Alex Pearce (all Derby County) Marc Wilson (Stoke City), Seamus Coleman (Everton), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Shane Duffy (Blackburn Rovers), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Paul McShane (Reading), Stephen Ward (Burnley).

Midfielders: Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan (both Norwich City), James McCarthy, Darron Gibson, Aiden McGeady (all Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), James McClean (West Brom), Alan Judge (Brentford), David Meyler (Hull City).

Forwards: Jonathan Walters (Stoke City), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids).

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