Jon Walters is the latest injury worry for Ireland after Martin O’Neill, in attendance at the Britannia Stadium, saw him limp off the pitch as Stoke City dumped Chelsea out of the League Cup on Tuesday night.
Walters was already unavailable for the first leg of the Euro play-off against Bosnia through suspension, but now O’Neill is keeping his fingers crossed that he will be fit for the second leg in Dublin.
“I do get concerned at this stage — I don’t look it — about players playing now,” said O’Neill. “Jon Walters, the other night, scores a goal, great, and then a few minutes later a fella goes through the back of him. You think if it’s a stud, fine, but if it’s something a wee bit more serious... he limped off at the end of the game and I’m hoping he comes through it.
“I go to matches now not enjoying them, it’s total trepidation. I go to the games thinking I’ll enjoy them for ten minutes but then... I said to the chairman of Stoke in the boardroom that I don’t think you should play Jon anymore, absolutely. Peter Coates, he’s very good, I like him a lot and of course he started laughing.”
Meanwhile, O’Neill was full of praise yesterday for in-form Brentford midfielder Alan Judge, who is now being linked to a move to the Premier League. Former Ireland international Lee Carsley has even expressed the opinion that, should Wes Hoolahan struggle to play the two games against Bosnia, Judge is the kind of playmaker who could step into his shoes.
Asked about Judge’s chances of featuring in the play-offs, O’Neill said: “If it comes to the point, I’d have less concern about putting him in now than I might have done a few weeks ago.”
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