Wes Hoolahan ruled out of Ireland's crucial World Cup clash against Wales
Martin O'Neill has been dealt a fresh blow by the news that playmaker Wes Hoolahan is out of the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Wales.
The Norwich midfielder is facing several weeks on the sidelines after a scan confirmed the extent of the thigh injury he suffered half an hour into Saturday's 2-0 Sky Bet Championship win over Barnsley.
With Robbie Brady suspended and Harry Arter also ruled out by injury for Friday night's game in Dublin, the news of Hoolahan's misfortune left O'Neill's midfield resources severely depleted.
O'Neill said: "He'll be out, Wes is out, definitely out. We got the news through on the scan this morning and obviously it's not great, not great for us, not great for him and not great for his club.
"He's going to be out for quite a number of weeks, I believe."
O'Neill, who will also be without his first-choice central defensive pairing of Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark through injury, is bracing himself for more gloomy news with Everton midfielder James McCarthy still nursing a hamstring strain and Newcastle striker Daryl Murphy undergoing a scan on a calf problem.
He said: "James has come over and we'll see how he is. He'll just take it on a day-to-day basis. He thinks that he might be able to make it - that would be great if he can. If he doesn't, well, we'll just have to do without him.
"Daryl, speaking to him last night, he is giving himself a chance. He's certainly not ruling himself out at this moment. We'll see what develops with the scan.
"The irony of all of this here is that way back when Gareth Bale got injured in November, everybody was talking about Wales possibly having one of their major players out of the team, and it turns out that we are the ones who are doing the suffering.
"But it is what it is and we'll get on with it and we'll be ready to go on Friday."
Skipper Seamus Coleman sat out training with a swollen ankle, but O'Neill is confident he will be fit to face the Welsh.
He said: "Seamus has picked up a knock - it's precautionary. If he doesn't train tomorrow, he'll train on Wednesday, so he'll be okay. You know what he's like."
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