First-choice striker Shane Long was already ruled out of last week’s provisional squad with an ankle injury but the withdrawal of another pair, albeit unsurprising given their recent lay-offs, limits the Derryman’s options for a pivotal fixture.
Also ruled out through injury are Cyrus Christie and Stephen Quinn, potential replacements for Ward and McCarthy respectively, but John O’Shea is included despite his ongoing hamstring problems.
Good news emerged for League of Ireland fans as Dundalk’s uncapped pair Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle both survived the cull from the provisional squad and will be involved in today’s first training session at the FAI headquarters ahead of Thursday’s departure to Vienna.
Ward’s absence due to the hamstring tear he suffered at Old Trafford 10 days ago presents O’Neill with a selection and positional dilemma.
He has the option of moving Ciaran Clark wide from central-defence yet is more likely to redeploy Robbie Brady from midfield back to the berth he occupied for a chunk of the Euro 2016 qualifiers and the tournament opener against Sweden.
All the indications are that Harry Arter will earn his first competitive cap in midfield alongside Glenn Whelan and Jeff Hendrick, with Wes Hoolahan assuming the No 10 spot in place of Brady. Jon Walters may be thrust into the central striker’s role.
Meanwhile, injury has also robbed Austria of a couple of mainstays. Werder Bremen playmaker Zlatko Junuzovic and Sebastian Prödl of Watford miss out and are replaced by Fulham’s Michael Madl and Karim Onisiwo from Bundesliga outfit Mainz.
Darren Randolph (West Ham United), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Colin Doyle (Bradford City).
Seamus Coleman (Everton), Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce (Derby County), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Paul McShane (Reading), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Andy Boyle (Dundalk)
Aiden McGeady (Preston North End*), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United), David Meyler (Hull City), Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City), Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Jonathan Hayes (Aberdeen), Daryl Horgan (Dundalk)
Jonathan Walters (Stoke City), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town)
*Indicates player is currently on loan