The feelgood news factor of the inclusion of Dundalk duo Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle in the latest Irish squad is offset by unhappy confirmation that Shane Long has followed fellow striker Daryl Murphy into sick bay for the upcoming World Cup qualifier away to Austria.
And with Stephen Ward, John O’Shea, and James McCarthy named in the provisional panel but all considered doubtful, Martin O’Neill already has plenty to be concerned about before the game in Vienna on Saturday week.
The loss of Long (hamstring) and Murphy (calf) has seen Ipswich Town’s David McGoldrick recalled to the squad to join fellow strikers Jon Walters, Kevin Doyle and Adam Rooney.
At the other end of the pitch, O’Neill reported encouraging news on John O’Shea while suggesting that things are rather more touch and go for Stephen Ward.
“I’ve been speaking to John,” said the manager. “John is improving and he’s feeling optimistic about things at this moment even to the point of maybe training much earlier than he thought. That’s great news.
“Stephen has an injury, definitely. He doesn’t come off easily but he said he had a type of an injury like this one time before where they were looking at maybe four weeks and he was back in two. So that’s why he doesn’t want to rule himself out and why I put him in provisionally. Very much like James McCarthy, if the game was this Saturday, he wouldn’t play.”
O’Neill said Horgan and Andy Boyle were in his provisional squad on merit but his emphasis yesterday on international football being another step up — even for players who now have substantial Europa League experience under their belts — appeared to hint at the possibility that they may not make the final cut this time.
“I have been impressed with the way that they have played and competed very strongly in European football,” said O’Neill.
“Like everything else, these are still steps up to playing international football which is supposed to be the creme de la creme. And we are playing against top-class opposition. We played against a Serbian side that had Bundesliga and Premier League players. So it’s hard to make the step up although quite a number of them have done quite well.”
Asked if he planned to retain the duo for his final squad, O’Neill replied: “First of all, they’ve two games to negotiate first and we’ll see how they go. You’re always trying to decide whether players can go and step up. This is it. I’m not running a kindergarten, you know. You’re looking for as many ready-made players (as possible) to play international football.”
O’Neill also said that he’s prepared to give dual eligibility Brentford striker Scott Hogan time to make up his mind his international future.
“He has not decided,” said the manager. “I was speaking to his agent and he wanted that bit of time. He has not played a great deal of football and is using the international breaks to ensure his fitness is right up to scratch.
“He is doing the proper thing and that is fine. So I left that alone and said that I would revisit it after these games and see how he gets on over the Christmas period. I would certainly not be rushing it, and it’s the player who is the one who will make the decision. After this game we don’t have a game until March so there will be time to discuss it between now and then.”
Also included in the latest provisional squad is goalkeeper Colin Doyle, who earned his only senior cap against Ecuador in May 2007, and has recorded six clean sheets for Bradford City so far this season.
Meanwhile James McClean’s younger brother, Patrick has joined League One Walsall on trial. Patrick, 19, was handed a trial after impressing for Derry City this season.
Republic of Ireland squad (World Cup qualifier v Austria, November 12, Vienna):
Darren Randolph (West Ham), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wed), Colin Doyle (Bradford), Ian Lawlor (Man City), Danny Rogers (Falkirk); Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce (Derby), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle), Paul McShane (Reading), Shane Duffy (Brighton), Andy Boyle (Dundalk), Stephen Ward (Burnley); Aiden McGeady (Preston), James McClean (West Brom), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), James McCarthy (Everton), Stephen Quinn (Reading), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds), David Meyler (Hull), Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham), Conor Hourihane (Barnsley), Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Jonathan Hayes (Aberdeen), Daryl Horgan (Dundalk); Jonathan Walters (Stoke), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), David McGoldrick (Ipswich)
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