Thursday 8 December 2016

'I formed some some sort of Plan A, B, C and D' - Martin O'Neill fears over striker shortage

Published 10/11/2015 | 02:30

Jon Walters will miss Friday's match with Bosnia due to suspension
Jon Walters will miss Friday's match with Bosnia due to suspension

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill says that problems in the forward department could force his hand when it comes to crafting a plan for the first leg of the Euro 2016 play-off in Bosnia on Friday.

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The mission for the travelling party revolves around getting a result that keeps the tie alive for decider next Monday, although O'Neill has stressed the importance of an away goal.

However, with Jon Walters suspended and a 'definite possibility' that Shane Long will only be available for the Aviva Stadium match - that is if he makes it at all with his ankle problem lingering - O'Neill admits that he could have to prioritise keeping it tight given his personnel issues.

Daryl Murphy, Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle are his attacking options for Zenica if Long is absent. Walters will come straight back into the side for the decisive 90 minutes.

"There's two games in quick succession and I have to monitor it but it's important that we still be in the game come Monday night," said O'Neill.

"It's not that I hadn't formulated some sort of Plan A, B, C and D but now we have the players together we'll sit down and take a look at fitness, suspensions and availability - everything has to be taken into consideration.

"There's no point in preparing for the second game if we haven't done our preparation for the first one. I think we have to be positive and try and get a goal."

O'Neill expects to have a clearer idea of where Long stands tomorrow after he received an injection on his ankle problem.

John O'Shea, Alan Judge, Paul McShane and Rob Elliot also missed the first training session of the week in Abbotstown as they have stayed behind to be assessed at their clubs. O'Shea, who is suspended for the away leg, is racing against time to be fit for Monday.

O'Neill is perplexed by Steve McClaren's reservations about Elliot given that he starred for Newcastle on Saturday.

Irish Independent

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