Long ruled out, Best doubtful for first leg

AS feared, Shane Long is definitely out of Ireland’s two European Championship play-off games against Estonia, having failed to recover in time from a knee injury.

The West Brom striker will, however, be in Dublin for the second leg tomorrow week to lend his support to the team as they bid to qualify for the finals in Poland and Ukraine next summer. And late last night, the FAI announced Portsmouth’s Liam Lawrence is out of the squad, the winger having suffered an ankle injury.

Sunderland’s John O’Shea is still hopeful of playing in second leg, although the full-back has not recovered in time from a hamstring injury to be fit for the first game in Tallinn on Friday. O’Shea is expected to link up with the squad next weekend.

Leon Best, a late call-up to the squad, also remains a doubt for both games with toe and groin injuries. The Newcastle striker’s situation is further complicated because his wife is due to give birth imminently. Last night, it was being suggested he would arrive in Dublin today to have a scan under the supervision of the FAI medical staff.

“He is desperate to play,” said his club boss Alan Pardew. “We’ve spoken to the Irish manager so we will see.”

Fit again Robbie Keane, who at one point was a serious doubt for the play-offs, is now expected to arrive in camp on Tuesday, assuming he suffered no setback in last night’s game between LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.

Centre half Darren O’Dea, recovering from concussion, missed out on yesterday’s game for Leeds against Leicester but will be assessed by FAI doctors on his arrival to Malahide today. Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli arrived in Dublin yesterday.

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