Tuesday 20 February 2018

Ireland's Euro 2016 hopes dealt a big blow as Martin O'Neill confirms Jon Walters could miss Belgium game

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

MARTIN O'NEILL says that Jonathan Walters is 'pretty doubtful' for Ireland's Euro 2016 date with Belgium on Saturday after he suffered a reaction to playing through the pain barrier in Monday's 1-1 draw with Sweden.

The Stoke player felt an improvement in his Achilles in the build-up to the game but has admitted to struggling from the outset of the Stade de France encounter. He was replaced after 63 minutes and O'Neill indicated that he is worried about the 32-year-old.

"Jon will obviously be the main concern and I’d say he’s pretty doubtful for the second game coming up," said O'Neill, speaking to FAI TV from the Irish base today.

The Ireland boss re-iterated his disappointment at failing to capitalise on a promising display in the opener and accepted that the individual quality of Belgium will make the Bordeaux fixture a stern challenge.

He watched the second half of their 2-0 loss to Italy and will study the first half in detail before forming a firm opinion.

O'Neill always believed it was dangerous to underestimate the Italians and suggested that Belgium's weakness could be an inability to knit a talented squad together.

"It was one of those games I possibly couldn't predict," he said,  "The idea that Italy are a has been side has been totally negated.

"Italy are a tournament team, we know this from years and years of experience. They are a tournament side, they are a strong strong football nation.

"They've got very good players. Belgium have a real set of individual players. It’s whether they go and gel as a side - they have individuals capable of taking you on and beating you and they play in top class company every single week."


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