Arter back in action - but O'Neill sweats on Meyler
Harry Arter's ambitions of mounting a late push for Ireland's Euro squad rocketed over the weekend after he returned earlier than expected for Bournemouth.
Despite manager Eddie Howe raising doubts 24 hours earlier of the Irish midfielder being back from his Achilles injury by the end of the season, Arter declared himself fit and lasted the full game at Everton.
His comeback from a six-week absence is timely considering Ireland manager Martin O'Neill will assemble an extended squad in the week leading up to the penultimate friendly against Holland in Dublin on May 27, the final audition before the 23-man panel is selected.
Were it not for his injury troubles, the 26-year-old Arter (below) would have earned more than the sole cap he won against England last June and a fully-fit Arter should feature in the Dutch workout based on the soundings from O'Neill.
"Harry trained all week without any problems, and there were question marks over whether we'd risk him from now till the end of the season, but he assured us he was fit and wanted to play," said Howe's assistant Jason Tindall.
That dose of good news comes against less than positive noises emanating about the well-being of Arter's rivals for midfield slots, Jeff Hendrick and David Meyler.
An ongoing thigh problem is expected to keep Hendrick out of Derby's visit to Brighton today while Meyler was again missing from Hull's trip to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
Hendrick is on course to return for the Rams' Championship play-offs campaign but Steve Bruce has all but ruled Meyler out of their punt at returning to the Premier League through the same route.
The Corkman - a firm favourite of O'Neill having played under him at Sunderland - suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury during the midweek meeting with Reading.
Hamstring trouble is also afflicting Aiden McGeady, again missing from Sheffield Wednesday's match-day squad for Saturday's win over Cardiff City, but it is thought he'll be available for their play-off tilt.
There should be no concerns either about Daryl Murphy's continued absence from Ipswich's match-day squad as Mick McCarthy confirmed the striker will be ready for the Euros. The Ipswich Town boss has also talked up the outside chances of David McGoldrick making the cut after the forward scored in the draw against MK Dons.
In the Premier League, Jonathan Walters saw his first action for six weeks as a second-half substitute for Stoke City against Sunderland after recovering from a procedure last month on a knee injury.
Ashbourne native Kevin Toner, whose father Brendan played for St Francis in 1990 FAI Cup final, made his first start for relegated Aston Villa at Watford.
Had he remained at Manchester City, Jack Byrne might have got a run-out in the experimental Manchester City side yesterday but the midfielder did just fine where he was in Holland by scoring a delightful goal for on-loan club SC Cambuur against PSV Eindhoven.
Byrne may be joined in the Ireland squad for the World Cup qualifying campaign by another teen playmaker, Danny Crowley, if O'Neill and Roy Keane get their way.
Ireland's managerial duo held a productive meeting with the Arsenal prospect in recent weeks, with O'Neill revealing another summit is being organised shortly.
"He's a player with plenty of confidence, I wish I had the same," O'Neill said of Crowley, who has represented both Ireland and England at underage level.
Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a brace as French champions Paris Saint-Germain hammered Rennes 4-0. It brought the Sweden captain's goal haul in the league to 34 this season.