The Jon Walters injury scare story morphed from ‘crisis’ to ‘what crisis?’ in the space of a few hours yesterday, after Ireland’s player of 2015 moved quickly to allay fears a knee problem could threaten his availability for the Euros.
Having missed out on the games against Switzerland and Slovakia due to a cartilage problem, the Stoke City man underwent surgery on Wednesday and, following reports he might struggle to make the finals in June, went public to declare: “I’ve had a similar one done before and was back playing in less than three weeks so I’ll be grand.”
This time, the target for his return to duty is estimated at four to six weeks which, all going well, could still see him returning to action before the end of the club season and in good time for France 2016.
The player who famously posed for a selfie with President Michael D Higgins after scoring twice in Ireland’s decisive play-off win over Bosnia, also good-humouredly explained the absence of a picture from his hospital bed.
“Apologies for no post-op selfie,” he tweeted. “I had surgery yesterday and all went well.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Harry Arter is hoping his dream of playing at the European Championships is also still alive. Arter had to pull out of the games against the Swiss and Slovaks due to an Achilles problem, an injury which has also left him facing a battle to get back into the side at Bournemouth.
“Whether or not I go to the Euros will be largely down to me,” he said. “I told Martin O’Neill I would play through anything to prove myself but he told me not to be silly. He was very supportive and said he knew what I could do. He just wanted me to get fit and assured me the games weren’t that important. Hopefully, I will get a chance in the friendly against Holland before he names the squad.”
Arter, who missed the start of the season with a groin problem he aggravated on international duty last summer, said: “The groin injury dragged on for longer than expected. It was very frustrating to watch from the stands. I worked hard to get fit and the (Bournemouth) medical team and support staff were fantastic. Their input often goes unnoticed by people outside the club but it is no coincidence we are one of the fittest teams in the league, if not the fittest.
“I was champing at the bit to come back and it was a relief when the manager gave me the nod for the League Cup game at Liverpool. I know we lost but it was a big milestone for me and the nightmare was behind me. “This is the best league in the world and there is no let-up. I’ve loved every minute of it and can’t wait to get back. The thought of not playing scares me.”
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