Ahead of Sunday’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland, James McClean has emerged as a fresh injury worry for Ireland while Darron Gibson is also a mounting concern as Stephen Ward remains a real doubt.
McClean left training at Gannon Park yesterday with ice and heavy strapping on his foot, bound for what Martin O’Neill described as a “precautionary” scan.
“He was feeling his ankle after training,” the manager went on, “so he just tried it this morning, and he’s still feeling a little sore. There’s plenty of time, we think, but James doesn’t usually complain about things, that’s the point.
"Darron Gibson missed out again today. He’s got a groin, I’m not sure of the medical term, and he’s a bit concerned. It’s too early for me (to be concerned). I just said to him, ‘we’ll play it day by day’.”
And Stephen Ward, the manager revealed, is seeking out specialist opinion on his ankle. “He went for a scan,” O’Neill reported.
“I would be struggling to give you the medical terms but suffice to say he’s going to see someone again, for another look. It’s a few days yet, we’ll see. I think he’d like to get it sorted out as quickly as possible so he can get a few days’ training done. If the game was tomorrow I think it would be a bit of a struggle for him.”
Better news for Ireland is that Glenn Whelan, Robbie Brady and Aiden McGeady all successfully came through training while Jon Walters, according to O’Neill, is coping fine with the mask to protect his recently fractured cheekbone.
Robbie Keane was in Malahide yesterday having flown in from the States, with O’Neill expressing the hope that the veteran’s recent break ahead of the MLS season will be good for his fitness for the fray, if selected.
“My own view is that with their season just started, I’m hoping that freshness and that vibrancy he will possess at this time will carry him through,” said O’Neill.
And on Keane’s undimmed enthusiasm for playing for his country, O’Neill remarked: “I don’t think you can do anything in this game without enthusiasm. That enthusiasm carries you a long way. You hear Alex Ferguson talking about it — the enthusiasm to get up, do it again, and do it for as long as you possibly can.
“I might remind him (Robbie), as someone who’s many years his senior, to stay with it and play as long as you can because you’re a long time … I won’t use the word (smiles)… but you’re a long time out of it after that.”
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