Boss hopes crocked pair could yet turn up for international duty
Mick McCarthy says he's encouraged by the desire of his injured players to cast aside their crutches and prove their fitness in time for international duty next week.
The Ireland boss has named a 24-man squad for the away double-header in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Georgia and Switzerland.
Richard Keogh, sidelined for 15 months with a knee injury, is of course completely out of contention but even though defender Shane Duffy and forward David McGoldrick were not included, McCarthy could spring a surprise by calling them up, if they can recover from the injuries which have forced them out of action at club level.
A calf injury appeared to rule Duffy out for up to six weeks while McGoldrick missed Sheffield United's last three games with a hamstring complaint, but Duffy and McGoldrick are keen to link up if possible.
"I know what players are like: they always want to leave that little bit of hope that they can be here and they can play. Of course, if I have built that up a little too far, I don't know. I'll find out from the clubs," McCarthy said.
"Didsy was optimistic. I have been in contact with the club; they felt that it might be a bit early. But he is back out on the grass so let's wait and see and we can have him checked by our doctors and physios.
"I still have a bit of optimism for big Duffer because he could tip up and say 'I'm alright'."
The certain absence of Keogh (injury) and Enda Stevens (suspension, for the first game in the double header) forces McCarthy to reshape his defence for the trip to Tbilisi.
Having opted not to call Stephen Ward out of retirement, he says the left back slot, as Stevens' replacement, is up for grabs while Darragh Lenihan, capped just twice and both times in friendly games, will also come into contention if injury rules out the centre halves next in line, Kevin Long and John Egan.
The Ireland squad begin training in Dublin on Monday.