While Darren Randolph was earning plaudits for his role in helping Middlesbrough keep a clean sheet against Preston – including one fine save to deny ex-Cork City man Sean Maguire – his Ireland understudy Keiren Westwood was having a much less happy time of it in the Championship on Saturday.
Caught dangerously late and hard on the follow-through as he attempted to clear the ball, the 32-year-old needed six minutes of treatment and, despite attempting to resume playing, was forced off after 35 minutes in Sheffield Wednesday’s 1-1 draw away to Burton Albion.
Westwood later tweeted a picture of his heavily bruised knee, with the comment: “Think I’m lucky I rode the challenge. Would hate to think what might have happened. Please God, it’s just bruising and not ligament damage.”
Referencing the Irish fans in Las Vegas for the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight, the keeper also tweeted: “The greatest country, the best people, unbelievable fans. Proud to be Irish.”
The injury means Westwood joins Jon Walters (ankle) and Jeff Hendrick (thigh) as significant doubts for Ireland ahead of next Saturday’s World Cup qualifier away to Georgia and the home game against Serbia the following Tuesday.
Both players missed Burnley’s 1-1 draw with Spurs yesterday, although Clarets manager Sean Dyche had said scans indicated Walters’ ankle ligament injury – picked up in midweek in the League Cup game against Blackburn Rovers – was “not as serious as it could have been.”
However, Martin O’Neill will still be anxious to learn for himself the extent of the problem for Walters while also hoping for the best with Hendrick whose thigh strain had already kept him sidelined for the Blackburn game.
But, as of last night, no-one had been officially ruled out of contention before the final squad for the back to back World Cup qualifiers is announced today and the players begin a week of training at FAI headquarters in Abbottstown.
Currently joint-top on points with Serbia but lying second on goal difference, Ireland resume their bid to reach the World Cup finals in Russia next year with a game against Georgia in Tbilisi on Saturday September 2 followed by the visit of the Serbians to Dublin on Tuesday September 5.
Paddy Henderson, the former Shamrock Rovers and Drogheda goalkeeper, has died. Henderson was an FAI Cup winner with Rovers in 1962 and his three sons — former Bohs and St Pat’s netminder Dave, Cobh Ramblers manager Stephen, and former Ireland international Wayne — followed his goalkeeping legacy.
Paul McGrath wrote on Twitter: “Sad to hear the passing of Paddy Henderson the man who said if I didn’t make it at Man Utd My job at the steal works was always there! #rip”
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