Saturday 25 November 2017

Randolph is in pole position to replace given

Darren Randolph
Darren Randolph

Martin O'Neill will turn to Darren Randolph to man the posts for Ireland in the Euro 2016 play-off against Bosnia after Shay Given was ruled out.

But while Given's absence, due to surgery needed on a knee injury, is a big blow there was some good news for the Irish boss as Seamus Coleman overcame a stomach bug to play the full game for Everton in their hammering of Sunderland.

Coleman had been a doubt last week but the sight of the Donegal man, and James McCarthy, completing 90 minutes for Everton yesterday will have heartened O'Neill, who sent his goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh to Goodison Park to watch the game.

McDonagh's input over the next three weeks will be very important as O'Neill decides how to cope without Given. Stoke boss Mark Hughes revealed that a knee problem flared up in training last week and Given was unable to make the squad for City's 0-0 draw with Newcastle United. "He has got a piece of loose bone in the knee which we hoped would settle down, but it raised its head again and it looks like he might have to have a procedure to deal with it," said Hughes.

Rob Elliot played 90 minutes for Newcastle against Stoke but he's also a concern and manager Steve McClaren says that Elliot could miss the Magpies' clash with Bournemouth next week, making him a major doubt for the play-offs.

McDonagh went to watch Keiren Westwood in action for Sheffield Wednesday in Saturday's win over Nottingham Forest but Westwood has also had injury problems of late and had to miss the Owls' League Cup win over Arsenal last week.

Randolph is in pole position to start against Bosnia now but he has not played for his club since he started in Ireland's defeat to Poland last month but he insists he can do the job.

"I feel I am ready and I am all the better for the experience of the games against Germany and Poland.

"I think I have done well, not just in the last two games with Ireland but in the matches I had with West Ham, that I can deliver and play at this level," Randolph said.

In a sign that the uncapped Alan Judge is very much in his thoughts, O'Neill went to see Brentford in their win at home to QPR, where Judge was again impressive for Lee Carsley's side and set up the winning goal.

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