Thursday 24 August 2017

Austria lose another player as list of absentees grows ahead of Ireland qualifier

Marc Janko (R) celebrate scoring a goal with the David Alaba (C) and Stefan Ilsanker (L) of Austria during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Serbia and Austria at stadium Rajko Mitic on October 9, 2016 in Belgrade, . (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Marc Janko (R) celebrate scoring a goal with the David Alaba (C) and Stefan Ilsanker (L) of Austria during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Serbia and Austria at stadium Rajko Mitic on October 9, 2016 in Belgrade, . (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Austria have lost yet another player in the build up to Sunday's crucial World Cup qualifier with the Republic of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium with Sparta Prague striker Marc Janko sidelined with tonsillitis.

Janko, who is tied for fouth among Austria's all-time leading goalscorers with 28 goals in 61 games, is the seventh player to drop out of Marcel Koller's squad with midfielders Marko Arnautovic and Stefan Ilsanker unavailable through suspension, while goalkeepers Robert Almer (cruciate) and Andreas Lukse (calf strain), and Schalke midfielder Alessandro Schoepf (knee) have all been sidelined through injury.

Austria will also be without Red Bull Salzburg full-back Andreas Ulmer who arranged his wedding for this weekend.

Koller has called up Graz forward Deni Alar to replace Janko in the squad with Austria needing a win in Dublin this weekend if they are to realistically keep any hopes of automatic qualification alive.

A defeat on Sunday would leave Austria seven points off the pace with just four games to play, while conversely a win for Ireland would put Martin O'Neill's side in a strong position to qualify with just Georgia, Serbia, Moldova and Wales to play in their final four games.

Ireland, of course, are not without their own injury concerns with Ipswich Town forward David McGoldrick ruled out with a knee injury while Jon Walters is in doubt after sitting out training on Wednesday with a knee complaint of his own.

While O'Neill insists that reports of unrest within the Austria camp should be treated with a pinch of salt, he also said that Koller's side should not be discounted, despite their underwhelming start to the campaign and their disastrous display at last summer's Euro 2016 finals in France.

"Despite the fact that they didn't cover themselves in glory in the Euros, their qualification was really, really fantastic, so I thought they would have a point to prove starting off in the World Cup qualification games," said O'Neill.

"They have probably dropped a couple of points that they maybe didn't expect - maybe all three against us, which was not on the agenda. They were strong favourites that night and that was only a few months ago, so they might be disappointed with their haul of points at the moment.

"They have to come and probably try to win the game themselves to get into it and really it is up to us to try to keep that points differential between us, so I think it's all to play for.

"I still think they are a top-quality nation."

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