Ward answers SOS as Wilson and Whelan ruled out
Published 09/06/2014 | 02:30
Stoke City pair Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson are out of Ireland's friendly with Portugal in New Jersey tomorrow night.
Wilson has stayed with the group in the USA to receive treatment on the hamstring that tightened during the draw with Costa Rica, but Whelan has flown home as one of his children is unwell.
Stephen Ward trained with the the rest of the squad yesterday at New York Red Bulls training camp after answering an SOS call in light of Wilson's difficulty and will start the match at left-back.
Whelan's unavailability means that the pairing of Jeff Hendrick and David Meyler, who thrived in the draw with Italy on Saturday week at Craven Cottage, could be reunited in the engine room.
Paul Green started the Costa Rica match next to Whelan but, while he worked hard, struggled to make an impression.
Portugal come into the game off the back of a 1-0 win over Mexico in Boston on Friday night.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed that match with a thigh injury, but he has since resumed training and may play some part tomorrow.
That would suit Richard Keogh just fine.
"It would be great because you want to play against the best players in the world," said the Derby defender. And they don't come much bigger than Ronaldo.
"If he does play, we will be ready, but first of all we have to concentrate on ourselves."
The 27-year-old is enjoying the international break and says it has allowed him to put his play-off final horror with Derby to the back of his mind.
"I have trained hard and well since I joined up with the squad and I think I showed against Costa Rica that I am ready," he said.
"I've totally forgotten about our defeat in the promotion play-off final and I was pleased with the way the Costa Rica game went for me."