Pauw awaits medical advice before final decision on captain McCabe

Ireland boss Vera Pauw said Doctor will advise if Katie McCabe is fit to play in friendlies. 
Pauw awaits medical advice before final decision on captain McCabe

WAITING GAME: Vera Pauw will await to hear from the Doctor if Katie McCabe will be available for upcoming friendlies. Pic:Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Katie McCabe will have to get the all-clear from medics and play through the pain barrier to maintain her 64-game sequence of games for Ireland next week.

Vera Pauw’s team face world champions USA in their final pair of away friendlies before the World Cup in July but their captain McCabe emerged as a major doubt after sustaining a foot injury in Arsenal’s Champions League victory over Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

That McCabe reappeared at the Emirates post-match on crutches and donning a protective boot, rather than be immediately sent to hospital, boded well in terms of severity and a scan on Thursday revealed merely swelling and bone bruising on her foot injury.

It was expected that the winger would remain in London to convalesce for the Gunners’ hectic upcoming schedule, including a Champions League semi-final against Wolfsburg, but she’s eager to face the world’s top ranked nation when the teams face off in Texas and Missouri on April 8 and 11.

"We are waiting on the final say of the doctor but her x-ray is clear and her scan is clear,” said Pauw.

"So, it looks like a very bad bruise on the bone and now the assessment is that if that bruise can heal in time she can play, but that is up to the doctor [FAI’s Siobhan Forman].

"The biggest relief is of course that it is not a long-term injury.

“It is just a matter of whether she can play against the USA or not, but no fear for the World Cup."

Asked if she’s considered excusing McCabe – who hasn’t missed an Ireland game since November 2015 – the Dutchwoman said: "When an injury like that occurs I step back, I do not interfere at all.

“We have a Plan A and a Plan B that we discuss among the technical staff. Then we wait for news. It is up to the doctors at that point and Arsenal’s doctors were still assessing it up to 10 minutes ago."

Ireland assemble on Sunday night for a Monday Stateside departure and Pauw would be surprised at this point if McCabe is not part of the travelling delegation.

"Pretty high, because if there is no damage,” she said of her chances.

“It is a matter of 'can we control the pain?' but that is up to the doctors. The Arsenal doctor is assessing it at this moment."

She added: "We all know where we stand - we are playing the world champions, which is massive, but we need stability on the group.

"I would never bring a player, even Katie, if she has no chance of playing.

"If a player of Katie's calibre has a chance to play she also brings stability to the group and that is very necessary when you play a game like this."

Pauw has drafted three uncapped players into her 27-player panel – two home-based in Tara O’Hanlon and Alannah McEvoy while Lewes goalkeeper Sophie Whitehouse, as revealed in the Irish Examiner last month, comes onboard having declared through her Dublin-born mother.

While Niamh Fahey, Leanne Kiernan and Chloe Mustaki are injured, they’re in line to be available for the final friendlies – at Tallaght against Zambia and France on June 22 and July respectively. There’s no worries either over left wing-back mainstay Megan Campbell, who won’t travel due to personal reasons.

“When you need to get to a certain point you have to take risks of failure because otherwise you’ll not get ready,” Pauw said of facing the powerful Americans twice in their backyard.

“You must pull yourself out of your comfort zone to get to the highest level. If you get a bad defeat then of course you don’t want that and it will hurt us, but it’s better now than in the first game of the World Cup.

“We’ll make a step in withstanding pressure and still be able to play. To play doesn’t mean to press the back into their half, only that there is a fight and an equal game.

“That we go through the game having chances to score while stopping them from scoring. That is the realistic aim.” Ireland follow up next Saturday’s first game at the Q2 Stadium in Austin (Kick-off 7.30pm Irish/2.30pm local time) by staging a rematch on Tuesday week, April 11, at CityPark, Missouri, the first time for a fixture to be held at the home of the latest US franchise, St Louis City FC, which is the country’s only majority-female owned club.

USA have already picked their 26-player squad, with an injury to Megan Rapinoe denying her a 200th cap against Ireland.

In what is an unofficial record, the USWNT will have five mothers in camp: Casey Krueger, Julie Ertz, Crystal Dunn, Adrianna Franch and Alex Morgan.

Ireland travel Down Under to face co-hosts Australia on July 20 at an expected sold-out 83,000-seater Sydney Olympic Stadium. Olympic gold medallists Canada on July 26 and Nigeria on 31 complete the group for Ireland.

Ireland WNT Squad:

Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion), Sophie Whitehouse (Lewes).

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Jessie Stapleton (Shelbourne), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Aoife Mannion (Manchester United), Diane Caldwell (Reading), Claire O’Riordan (Celtic), Hayley Nolan (London City Lionesses), Tara O’Hanlon (Peamount United), Áine O’Gorman (Shamrock Rovers).

Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Ciara Grant (Hearts), Roma McLaughlin (Fortuna Hjorring).

Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Abbie Larkin (Shamrock Rovers), Amber Barrett (Potsdam Turbine), Kyra Carusa (London City Lionesses), Marissa Sheva (Washington Spirit), Alannah McEvoy (Shamrock Rovers).

USA Squad:

Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch (Kansas City Current), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Fox (North Carolina Courage), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars), Kelley O’Hara (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (OL Reign).

Midfielders: Julie Ertz (Unattached), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck(San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars), Lynn Williams (NJ/NY Gotham FC).

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