Boost for Ireland as Shane Long on mend for Bosnia game

Martin O’Neill has received a huge boost with the news that Shane Long is winning his battle to be fit for Ireland’s European Championship play-off against Bosnia next month.

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has delivered a positive bulletin on the fitness of Long who was stretchered off with an ankle injury during the 2-1 defeat to Poland in Warsaw. Although the striker will miss a second successive match for the Saints when they face Liverpool tomorrow, Koeman expects him to be available for the derby against Bournemouth on November 1.

“Shane Long is still out at the moment,” said the manager, “but he is progressing well.”

Further good news for Ireland is that Shay Given, who suffered a twisted knee in the famous victory over Germany, is expected to be back on the bench for Stoke City against Watford today.

John O’Shea and Jon Walters will miss the first leg of the Bosnia tie through suspension while Stephen Quinn is out for both games of the play-off and faces a long lay-off after undergoing knee surgery.

Meanwhile, Ireland will play Switzerland in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium next year.

March 25 is the date for the game against a side which has already qualified for the Euro finals.

On the home front, Galway United will this evening resume their battle against the drop in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, when they travel to the Carlisle Grounds to take on Bray Wansderers (5.45).

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