MARTIN O'NEILL has suffered his first injury blow as Ireland manager. Aston Villa defender Ciarán Clark will miss the friendly games against Latvia and Poland due to injury, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.
The Ireland squad is due to gather in Dublin this evening but the 27-man squad has already been reduced by two as Clark is missing, along with Hull City man Robbie Brady.
Roy Keane was at Villa Park to see Clark start for Villa in a 2-0 win over Cardiff City but the defender picked up a foot tendon injury and has cried off.
Brady also sits out this international double-header due to a groin problem which kept him out of the Hull squad for their Premier League game with Southampton. Anthony Pilkington is also a concern as he was substituted in the first half of Norwich's win over West Ham.
HUNT GETS THUMBS UP
MICK McCARTHY gave a big thumbs up to Stephen Hunt as the Ireland winger, on a "pay as you play" deal, kicked off his Ipswich Town career with a win.
Last week McCarthy swooped to sign the 31-year-old former Hull player and Hunt came off the bench to help Ipswich secure a 3-2 win over Blackpool, helping to set up the winner for fellow Waterford man Daryl Murphy.
"Hunty was great for us," said McCarthy. "He's only getting paid when he plays and to come over from Ireland on Friday, train and then go out and do a job for us at left-back shows the sort of terrific character he is.
COYLE: IT'S POPPYCOCK
Wigan manager Owen Coyle is "embarrassed" at claims that winger James McClean was dropped from the squad to face Yeovil because he refused to wear a shirt embroidered with a poppy.
Rumours escalated on Sunday afternoon that the Republic of Ireland international had been dropped over the issue - but Coyle revealed he sustained a dead leg in training and had simply missed out due to injury.
Coyle said: "The only reason James McClean didn't play today is because he was injured, it's as simple as that."