Wednesday 26 October 2016

Wilson a sight for sore eyes

Stoke's Marc Wilson
Stoke's Marc Wilson

Marc Wilson has given Martin O'Neill a much-needed defensive boost as the Ireland boss prepares for next month's Euro 2016 ties.

Wilson, who missed the start of the season with Stoke City due to an ankle injury, made his first start of the campaign in Saturday's 2-2 draw at home to Leicester City, Wilson slotted into defence by Stoke boss Mark Hughes after a worrying run of form from the side.

There will be have been some concern from the Ireland boss over the weekend form - or lack of it - from his defenders. Of the back five which started in the qualifier win at home to Georgia, only one (Robbie Brady) saw action for his club over the weekend as Shay Given and Ciarán Clark were unused subs for Stoke and Aston Villa while there was no sign of Séamus Coleman and John O'Shea for their clubs.

Coleman is close to full fitness following a hamstring injury and is expected to see some action for Everton in tomorrow's League Cup clash with Reading, while that match could also see Darron Gibson get some game time for the first time since April.

Clark was picked ahead of Wilson for the Gibraltar/Georgia games but a fit-again Wilson could win back his pace for the Germany game.

Overall it was a bleak weekend for O'Neill.

Apart from players who, for various reasons, are not available to him (Damien Delaney, Jack Grealish, Stephen Ireland), only six Republic of Ireland players started for their clubs in the Premier League over the weekend with two more (Eunan O'Kane, and Shane Long) appearing as subs.

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