Stoke snub puts dent in Shay Given's Euro 2016 hopes
Shay Given's hopes of making Ireland's Euro 2016 squad look to be fading after he is set to be overlooked for a Premier League return today.
Jack Butland's injury-enforced absence leaves Given's Stoke City boss Mark Hughes with a dilemma but Jakob Haugaard is in line to be selected ahead of the Donegal man for the meeting with Swansea City.
Given has declared himself fit after spending five months sidelined with a knee injury. This opportunity, however, may have come too soon for the veteran stopper. "I know who is playing and the lad knows," was as much as Hughes would reveal. "Everybody else can wait and see."
Another Irish player requiring patience is Harry Arter. Achilles trouble prevented him getting to impress Martin O'Neill on international duty and he's struggling to be fit for Bournemouth's meeting with Manchester City.
"Whether or not I go to the Euros will be largely down to me," explained the midfielder. "I told Martin O'Neill that I would play through anything to prove myself but he told me not to be silly."
Meanwhile, all of Ireland's walking-wounded strikers are expected to be fit for France but Hughes has suggested that Jonathan Walters may not feature for the remainder of Stoke's season.
Walters and Robbie Keane underwent knee operations this week to repair damage diagnosed during the international break. Neither played for Ireland against Switzerland nor Slovakia and it could be the next friendly with Holland on May 27 before they see action again.
Daryl Murphy and Kevin Doyle are less of a concern, with the pair due back before the end of April. Shane Long, taken off at half-time against the Slovakians after shipping a heavy challenge, could miss Southampton's trip to league leaders Leicester City tomorrow.
"With regards to Jon, the operation is one that has taken us aback a little bit to be perfectly honest, because we didn't even realise there was a problem," explained Hughes. "He went for a scan and it has shown he has a tear in his knee cartilage. He has had it before and he was back in three weeks. It might not be so quick this time, but it was something that needed to be done.
"Jon will be back strong, and maybe he will be back before the end of the season."
Keane will also hope his comeback is smooth. Posting a picture on social media following surgery late on Thursday night, the message from Ireland's record goalscorer read: "Operation done, speedy recovery, hopefully back stronger."
And Ireland aren't the only ones with injury problems with the news that Belgium's Liverpool striker Christian Benteke will be out for a month with a knee problem.