Sunday 17 December 2017

Martin O’Neill accidentally axes Wes Hoolahan from Ireland squad

Wes Hoolahan, Republic of Ireland, celebrates with team-mate Robbie Keane after scoring his side's seventh goal
Wes Hoolahan, Republic of Ireland, celebrates with team-mate Robbie Keane after scoring his side's seventh goal

Confusion surrounded Martin O’Neill’s press conference today as the Ireland manager named his 34-man squad for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland later this month.

While Harry Arter was initially the big talking point, it soon transpired that Wes Hoolahan was a notable absentee from the squad list handed out to journalists and 34 became 35.

But the Ireland manager then pointed out that the exclusion of Hoolahan was a “genuine accident” and a new squad list, which included Hoolahan, was issued.

Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter receives a first call after impressing for the Championship side in their promotion charge this season.

Martin O'Neill has travelled to watch the attack minded operator on a number of occasions and he is drafted into the 35-man panel which will be trimmed down closer to the key Aviva Stadium encounter.

"He is having a very good season," said O'Neill, "I think, yeah, why not? It would be nice to have a look at him. He's obviously played at underage level and I wanted to introduce another fresh face - there's no guarantees of anything. I've met him twice now and I think he deserves that chance.

"This might be a surprise to him as I didn't say anything to him. He will hopefully be pleasantly surprised."

Injury doubt Robbie Brady is included even though he sustained a serious calf problem in training with Hull a fortnight ago. Aiden McGeady, who is struggling with a bruised knee, is also on the list.

The odds appear to be against Brady. "He had the tear in the calf, it's a bit of a problem and it's responding to treatment. It's one of those that might be a day to day affair. He's said 'Don't rule me out at the moment'", explained O'Neill.

Jack Grealish was an unsurprising absentee from the sheet given the uncertainty that surrounds his future and Tim Sherwood's suggestion that the player might be leaning towards England.

When it was put to O'Neill that it looked as though there have been no fresh developments, he replied: "It would be pretty safe to say that."

The Derryman is expecting a formidable challenge from the group leaders who turned the group upside down with a shock win over Germany on home soil.

"Poland are a very strong team, they've obviously got off to a great start. Confidence is obviously very high there. They look up to the task. It will be a tough game for us."


Ireland squad:

Goalkeepers: David Forde, Shay Given, Keiren Westwood, Darren Randolph, Rob Elliot.

Defenders: Richard Keogh, Marc Wilson, Cyrus Christie, John O’Shea, Alex Pearce, Paul McShane, Ciaran Clark, Stephen Ward.

Midfielders: James McCarthy, Jeff Hendrick, Harry Arter, Glenn Whelan, Darron Gibson, Paul Green, Aiden McGeady, Anthony Pilkington, James McClean, Robbie Brady, Stephen Quinn, David Meyler, Wes Hoolahan.

Strikers: Robbie Keane, Shane Long, Daryl Murphy, Jon Walters, Kevin Doyle, Anthony Stokes, Simon Cox, David McGoldrick

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