Tuesday 16 July 2019

Jonathan Walters raises hopes he will be fit for Republic of Ireland match

Jonathan Walters flew with the Republic of Ireland squad to Tbilisi
Jonathan Walters flew with the Republic of Ireland squad to Tbilisi

Jonathan Walters was on the plane with the rest of the Republic of Ireland squad when it flew out to Tbilisi on Thursday afternoon after training fully for the first time this week.

The 33-year-old Burnley striker has been nursing an ankle injury which kept him out of his club's Premier League clash with Tottenham on Sunday since joining up with his international colleagues.

However, he was able to train fully for the first time on Thursday morning to increase manager Martin O'Neill's hopes that he will be fit for Saturday evening's World Cup qualifier in Georgia.

Walters scored the goals which secured their Euro 2016 play-off victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina and a late equaliser against Austria in June to keep the Republic locked together with Serbia at the top of Group D.

Walters' availability would come as a huge boost to O'Neill following the withdrawal of Ipswich's David McGoldrick for personal reasons, leaving Walters, Shane Long and Daryl Murphy as his only specialist frontmen.

There was good news too for O'Neill at the back with 117-times-capped Sunderland stopper John O'Shea returning to training after sitting out on Wednesday with a tight calf muscle.

Following a lengthy flight to the former Soviet republic, the squad will train at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena on Friday evening before attempting to repeat their 2-1 Euro 2016 qualifier victory there in September 2014, when they needed a late Aiden McGeady strike to snatch the points.

PA Media

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