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Monday 11 December 2017

Walters woe as Coleman near to his return

Jonathan Walters (pictured) is a big injury worry for Martin O’Neill
Jonathan Walters (pictured) is a big injury worry for Martin O’Neill

The dollop of good news sent the way of Martin O'Neill by Everton, who stated that Seamus Coleman will be back in full training and possibly back in action by the end of this year, has been tempered by the fact that Jonathan Walters is now a concern ahead of next month's World Cup double header.

O'Neill already has issues to deal with for the Dublin date with Moldova as James McClean and Robbie Brady are suspended.

The positives for the Ireland boss of late are the return to fitness of Jeff Hendrick, a rare start at Premier League level for Shane Long, and some goals from Championship forwards Daryl Murphy, David NcGoldrick and Sean Maguire.

Everton boss Ronald Koeman confirmed yesterday that Coleman, absent since that leg break in March, was progressing well and would be back in November, along with fellow injury victim Yannick Bolasie.

Working hard

"They are both working hard, going in the right direction but it's long-term injuries. Seamus is out a long time, but they are doing well, going well on their schedule to come back.

"But it's not up to me. We expect them back in full training in November," he said.

James McCarthy, yet to play for club or country this season, is still out.

"He is struggling with his fitness, I expect James back in training next week," said Koeman.

Given the player's injury woes and that long-running spat between the FAI and Everton over call-ups for McCarthy when he is not fully fit, O'Neill will not expect to have him available when the squad meet up in just 10 days' time.

But the fact that Walters is out of the Burnley squad for tomorrow's clash with Huddersfield is a big worry, especially as club boss Sean Dyche is unable to say when Walters, who turned 34 this week, will be fit.

"He's got to let his knee settle down a little bit, so we're not sure on timescales with that," the Burnley boss said.

Sunderland's John O'Shea, who has not played for Ireland this season, is also carrying an injury, along with compatriots Marc Wilson and Aiden McGeady.

Meanwhile, Moldova manager Igor Dobrovolski has named a squad made up mainly of home-based players for their Worl d Cup tie in Dublin.

Moldova, bottom of the Group D table and who have managed just one win in their last 15 internationals, will draw heavily on the domestic league for their first-ever visit to Ireland with just eight players drawn from clubs outside that country.

Defender Artur Ionita, a regular in Serie A this season with Cagliari, is one of their main hopes along with Israeli-based attacking midfielder Radu Gînsari.

Meanwhile, Ireland U21 cap Conor Shaughnessy's form with Leeds United has been rewarded with a new four-year deal. The Galway lad (21) has made six appearances for the Championship leaders.

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