Injury woe for Walters hits O'Neill

Veteran facing spell on the sidelines

Jon Walters’ absence is a blow to Irish ahead of Wales rematch

Aidan Fitzmaurice

There is no let-up on the injury front for Martin O'Neill as Jon Walters has now emerged as a doubt for next month's key double header in the Nations League.

Walters (35) was making only his second appearance for Ipswich Town since his loan move from Burnley was arranged, but he had to come off just seven minutes after arriving on as a sub in their 0-0 draw with Bolton on Saturday.

His absence would leave the Ireland boss with a lack of options up front for the must-win games at home to Denmark and Wales.

Ipswich boss Paul Hurst accepted the blame for taking a risk with Walters.


"He went straight into the medical room so I don't think we've got a definite answer at this stage and I don't know if we'll even know yet how bad or how long he will be out with a calf injury. He was certainly limping very heavily," said Hurst.

"He trained on Friday, he said he felt fine and we said we'd look again on Saturday morning. He said he was fine and I have to say he's an experienced pro who was desperate to be involved. If he wasn't okay to go he wouldn't have put himself up for selection.

"I think it's his calf rather than the Achilles, but at the same time you have to say maybe his other muscles are working harder to compensate for that. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed it's not too bad and not out for too long."

Walters' injury just added to the bleakness of a poor weekend for Irish talent across the water, as only five players eligible for the national side played in the Premier League - three of them (Declan Rice, Harry Arter and Matt Doherty) out of favour or out of the picture, Shane Long and Shane Duffy the only others to feature.

Kevin Long and Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Cyrus Christie (Fulham) and Ciaran Clark (Newcastle) were unused subs.

There was some positive news for O'Neill as two Irish strikers scored in the Championship.

David McGoldrick - who had been frozen out by O'Neill - was on target with his second goal of the season for Sheffield United in a 3-2 win over Preston, who nicked a goal through Callum Robinson.

O'Neill is hoping recent injury cases like James McClean and Séamus Coleman can recover in time for Nations League duty next month, and is also keen to see sidelined players like Seán Maguire, Robbie Brady and James McCarthy regain fitness.