PAUL McSHANE is an injury concern for next month's World Cup double header against Sweden and Austria due to a hamstring injury.
McShane suffered the injury in Saturday's Championship win over Charlton and manager Steve Bruce has confirmed that the Wicklow-born defender will be out for "at least a couple of weeks", causing concern to manager Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of that key date in Stockholm on March 22nd.
McShane has not played in a competitive international since the World Cup defeat to France in 2009 but the player remains in the thoughts of the Ireland manager and was handed a start at right back in the friendly win over Poland earlier this month.
Even though there has been some good news on the injury front this week with the return of Sean St Ledger to the Leicester City squad after a four-month absence, Trapattoni has a number of worries at the back as he prepares to name his squad on March 8 for the two World Cup games and McShane's status will be a cause of concern for the Ireland boss.
Richard Dunne and Marc Wilson have, like St Ledger, been out with long-term injuries, though Wilson hopes to return to the Stoke City side against Fulham on Saturday.
Seamus Coleman and Stephen Ward are both currently sidelined although Ward, who is struggling with a virus, was deemed fit enough to take a place on the bench for Wolves' Championship defeat to Barnsley on Tuesday night.
There was a boost in midweek, however, when Greg Cunningham recovered from a hamstring injury in time for Bristol City's game against Crystal Palace.
As Stephen Kelly is thought unlikely to feature for Ireland again under Trapattoni since the manager initiated a bitter spat with the Reading man, and as Darren O'Dea's season with Toronto does not resume for another two weeks, that leaves Ciaran Clark, John O'Shea, Greg Cunningham and Alex Pearce as the only defenders who are currently part of the Ireland set-up who are getting first-team action at the moment.