Tuesday 25 October 2016

Yellow peril hangs over Irish players

republic of Ireland

MARTIN O'Neill's Ireland squad are walking a disciplinary tightrope with five key players just one more booking away from a suspension, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.

And Scotland defender Russell Martin says that James McCarthy was lucky not to see red in Saturday's Euro qualifier in Dublin.

Ireland are fourth in the Group D table on points but we top the group in terms of indiscipline with the worst fair play record in the group.

So far 11 Irish players have been booked, five of them on two bookings (Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson, Séamus Coleman, James McCarthy and James McClean).

New rules in the competition mean that three, not two, bookings carry an automatic ban so if any of that quintet get a yellow card away to Gibraltar in September, that would rule them out of the key home game with Georgia due to suspension.

The Georgians have had 10 players booked, Scotland and Germany have six players on bookings and Gibraltar are the best-behaved with five of their players cautioned.

Norwich man Russell Martin says that McCarthy apologised for their clash, McCarthy lucky not to get a red card after catching Martin with his elbow.

"I wasn't happy about it at the time, but he's said it was accidental, he's apologised and we move on," said Russell (pictured). "When he saw the referee with a card, he said he thought it might be a red."

Meanwhile, Séamus Coleman says it's too early for Ireland to give up hope.

"We're still two points behind Scotland. But Scotland have a couple of tough games coming up, we have tough games coming up - we have just got to look at the next game," Coleman says.

"We'll look forward to September and try to win them. I know they are clichéd answers you are getting from me, but we can't give up on this group and I think we are still in it.

"A lot of people said it was must-win, but we won't give up hope just yet."

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