Whelan adds to Ireland’s injury woes

Injury concerns for Ireland ahead of Friday’s big World Cup qualifying test against Germany have worsened with the news that Glenn Whelan is the latest player to emerge as a major doubt for the game.

The Stoke City midfielder was forced out of yesterday’s scoreless draw with Liverpool after just 20 minutes, suffering from a hamstring problem. He will undergo a scan in Dublin this morning before any further decision is taken on his fitness.

Today also looks like it could be make or break for Sean St Ledger (hamstring) and James McClean (groin), both of whom will be assessed this morning on the basis of scans for their respective injuries.

If St Ledger misses out, it will mean Ireland going into battlewithout both Giovanni Trapattoni’s first-choice centre-halves, Richard Dunne having already been ruled out.

If that’s how it does pan out, John O’Shea will probably be partnered by Darren O’Dea in the heart of the defence, with Stephen Kelly the most likely replacement for O’Shea at full-back.

The weekend had already gotten off to a bad start for Trapattoni with confirmation that Kevin Doyle — the striker who’d come off the bench to dramatically turn the game in Ireland’s favour in Kazakhstan — would miss out with an injury he picked up in training at Wolves.

Robbie Brady and David Meyler, both of whom impressed on their senior debuts in the recent friendly victory over Oman in London, have already been added to the panel.

And it’s not just the team which is faced with making running repairs in time for the visit of the country ranked number two in the world.

The Aviva pitch cut up badly in places during Leinster’s victory over Munster on Saturday but stadium director Martin Murphy has insisted the surface will be back up to scratch for the game against Germany.

“Our team has been working on the pitch since Sunday morning and any damage from Saturday’s game has been repaired,” he said.

“There is a full programme of maintenance in place that will have it fully ready for Friday’s match against Germany.”

The Irish squad began assembling at their Portmarnock base yesterday and will have their first training session of the week at Gannon Park in Malahide this morning.

The German squad will gather in Frankfurt today to begin preparations for their trip to Dublin.

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