Mick McCarthy will keep the door open for James McClean to recover in time for the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2020 play-off.
The Stoke City winger suffered a medial knee ligament injury in their loss to Preston on Wednesday, with his club confirming he's facing "several weeks" on the sidelines.
“I’ve been in contact with James since he got injured. He’s told me he will do everything he can to get on the plane to Bratislava next month and I’d expect nothing less from him,” McCarthy told FAI.ie.
“James has been a key player for me throughout this European Championship campaign and we will support him all the way with his recovery.”
Ireland face Slovakia on March 26, with the winners away to Northern Ireland or Bosnia and Herzegovina in the play-off final on March 31.
McClean has been ever-present in Ireland's qualifying campaign, playing every minute as they finished third in Group D behind Switzerland and Denmark.
“I think the campaign has to give us confidence,” said McClean last month. “No disrespect to Bosnia, Slovakia, or Northern Ireland but they aren’t as good as Switzerland and Denmark. We showed we can compete and that should give us confidence going into the play-off games.”
At club level, McClean has enjoyed a resurgence of form under double-jobbing Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.
Should he be forced out of the reckoning, Robbie Brady could come into contention for a first competitive start since the draw away to Denmark.
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