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Caldwell injury adds to defensive worries for Pauw ahead of Sweden test

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Shelbourne's Abbie Larkin is included in the Ireland squad to face Sweden. Photo: Sportsfile

Shelbourne's Abbie Larkin is included in the Ireland squad to face Sweden. Photo: Sportsfile

Chloe Mustaki has been included in the Republic of Ireland squad to face Sweden. Photo: Sportsfile

Chloe Mustaki has been included in the Republic of Ireland squad to face Sweden. Photo: Sportsfile

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Shelbourne's Abbie Larkin is included in the Ireland squad to face Sweden. Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland face a defensive headache after Diane Caldwell joined Savannah McCarthy on the sidelines for the tough World Cup qualifying trip to Sweden next month after boss Vera Pauw confirmed her squad in Dublin this morning.

A thigh injury means the recent Manchester United recruit is ruled out of Ireland’s bid to somehow make amends for the narrow 1-0 defeat to the Olympic silver medallists last September.

Sweden will be hoping to clinch their World Cup spot against the Irish, whose intentions will be on limiting any potential damage to their goal difference as they seek to secure a play-off berth ahead of rivals Finland.

However, their defensive plans are uncertain after Galway-based McCarthy received a devastating long-term knee injury last week.

“It’s heart-breaking for her,” said Pauw this morning. “We will do everything we can to help her.

“She is a different defender to the other two in the centre and that was important for us. She was a mobile option and we need to solve it for this game.

“Diane has a thigh injury sadly. However, Megan Campbell is coming back and Harriet Scott is also available.

“Megan was over-loaded heading into the Pinata Cup and her knee was swelling so we decided not to over-load her for the good of her career.”

In a sign of the FAI’s intense recruitment policies, there is a first official call-up for midfielder Lily Agg, who qualifies through her Cork-born grandmother.

The 28-year-old - who hails from Brighton but plays for London City Lionesses - previously trained with the squad in April 2021.

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Pauw has also included 16-year-old Shels’ starlet Abbie Larkin, who made her senior debut at the Pinatar Cup in February and just recently featured in the Irish U17 side’s failed European Championship bid.

“Every game is crucial in this campaign,” said Pauw, whose side succumbed to an own goal against the Swedes last September.

“We are on the fringe of stepping up. Sweden aren’t ranked second for nothing, they are very solid and dangerous in attacking transitions.

“It makes it hard to have a plan but we do have a plan.

“The big chance we have is in the first game when their players were coming out of the Olympic Games and they were maybe a little tired. But now all their squad is fit and they are fresher.

Aside from Caldwell (thigh) and McCarthy (knee), injuries also rule out Niamh Farrelly (ankle), Emily Whelan (quad) and Aoife Colvill (knee), while Saoirse Noonan is continuing her recovery from a knee injury.

Ireland take on the Swedes in Gothenburg on Tuesday 12 April.

They then face into a defining three-game run-in with a trip to Georgia in June before September games against Finland in Tallaght and Slovakia in Bratislava.

Sweden play Georgia on April 8th and could clinch their World Cup spot by defeating the Irish, with a record 23,000 crowd expected at the Ullevi stadium.

“Two important matches await us here in April,” said coach Peter Gerhardsson, as he also unveiled his squad which includes the return of Sweden’s star player Caroline Seger, who missed the Dublin date.

“First we will tackle the away meeting with Georgia with full focus on bringing a good result home to Gothenburg and the meeting with Ireland at Gamla Ullevi.

“Then we have everything in our own hands and can secure a place for the WC 2023 in front of our home supporters.”

There are some changes in the squad compared to that which won the recent Algarve Cup with Magdalena Eriksson, Linda Sembrant, Filippa Curmark and Rebecka Blomqvist coming in.

Everton forward Anna Anvegard misses out due to concussion but her team-mates Nathalie Björn and Hanna Bennison have been selected.

Chelsea trio Zećira Mušović, Magda Eriksson and Jonna Andersson have also been included.

Emma Kullberg (Brighton & Hove Albion), Filippa Angeldahl (Manchester City) and Stina Blackstenius (Arsenal) are also members of Gerhardsson’s squad.

Republic of Ireland Women's National Team Squad

Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion), Eve Badana (DLR Waves)

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Claire Walsh (Glasgow City), Chloe Mustaki (Shelbourne), Megan Campbell (Liverpool), Áine O'Gorman (Peamount United)

Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Ciara Grant (Rangers), Jess Ziu (Shelbourne), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), Isibeal Atkinson (Celtic)

Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Kyra Carusa (HB Hoge), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Leanne Kiernan (Liverpool), Ellen Molloy (Wexford Youths), Abbie Larkin (Shelbourne)

WOMEN'S WORLD CUP QUALIFIER - GROUP A

Sweden v Republic of Ireland, Tuesday, April 12 (Gamla Ullevi, Gothenburg). KO 17:30 (18:30 local time), Live on RTÉ2/RTÉ Player


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