Tuesday 6 December 2016

Ireland left with uphill task after throwing away lead in Paris

Published 14/06/2016 | 02:30

Wes Hoolahan celebrates his goal against Sweden with Robbie Brady at the Stade de France. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
Wes Hoolahan celebrates his goal against Sweden with Robbie Brady at the Stade de France. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Martin O'Neill will this morning hope for a positive update on the fitness of Jonathan Walters as a pick-me-up from the disappointment of a Euro 2016 draw with Sweden.

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O'Neill admitted that his dressing-room in the Stade de France was a deflated place after a 71st-minute own goal from Ciaran Clark cancelled out Wes Hoolahan's magnificent opener in a game that Ireland deserved to win.

It means they must produce a big result against either Belgium and Italy if they are to qualify for the next phase. The Belgians have a point to prove in Bordeaux on Saturday after they suffered a surprise 2-0 loss to the Italians in Lyon last night.

O'Neill could do with Walters' workrate for that mission, but says he is worried about the pre-match injury doubt as the 32-year-old struggled to sprint during his hour on the pitch.

"Jon's not great," he said. "I'm concerned about him."

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Walters acknowledged that he needed the Achilles injury to settle down if he is to make the Belgian encounter.

The Irish boss accepted that his team needed to summon the strength that saw them deliver the win over Germany which helped them to France. He took heart from a dominant first-half showing.

"They are very, very tough games but while we have desire and a never-say-die attitude, I thought our players looked accomplished," he said. "We should have three points."

Irish Independent

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