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Crocked Clark poised for Euro woe

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Clark underwent surgery on an ankle problem this week and is not expected to play again this season for his club. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Clark underwent surgery on an ankle problem this week and is not expected to play again this season for his club. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Clark underwent surgery on an ankle problem this week and is not expected to play again this season for his club. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce has admitted that Ireland defender Ciaran Clark is unlikely to be fit for the Euro 2020 finals, if Ireland qualify and the tournament goes ahead.

Clark underwent surgery on an ankle problem this week and is not expected to play again this season for his club.

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy had planned on being without Clark for the Euro 2020 play-off in Slovakia, which is very much in doubt due to the Covid-19 crisis.

As he tries to plan for a behind-closed-doors game in Bratislava which almost certainly will not go ahead, the Ireland boss has a number of injury worries, especially in defence.

Seamus Coleman and Enda Stevens would also be unavailable for the proposed game in Bratislava, while Richard Keogh is ruled out long-term and is unlikely to play for Ireland again.

Asked if Clark would be fit should Ireland make it through to the finals, Bruce said: "If they qualify, then I think it would be unlikely if the Euros were to start on June 11. I can't see it. Maybe, though."

Newcastle's Slovakian goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has all but been ruled out of action for the play-off at home to Ireland, Bruce claiming he would be out of action "for the next month at least" due to a knee injury.

National team boss Pavel Hapal had hoped his No. 1 would be fit.

"The early reports were not very positive, we will see what the results of his scan show. Martin has not wanted to give any final answer until he knows the details," Hapal said of Dubravka, who has now effectively been ruled out.

There was one bit of good news for McCarthy this week as Stoke City revealed that James McClean had been able to resume light training following injury, though they have been unable to set a date for his return.

Training

"James has been on the training pitch but still with the medical team, he's not back in (full) training yet," boss Michael O'Neill says.

"He seems to be progressing quite well. He had a little setback last week, so we had to ease off on him a little bit.

"The good thing about James is that he is desperate to play. He's pushing very hard to get back and be in contention for selection again."