Wednesday 13 November 2019

Walters injury gives O'Neill scare ahead of Polish date

Jonathan Walters of Stoke City receives treatment during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City
Jonathan Walters of Stoke City receives treatment during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

JON Walters will find out today if a cheekbone injury sustained on Saturday will jeopardise his participation in Ireland's March 29 showdown with Poland.

He picked up the nasty knock in Stoke's disappointing 1-0 defeat to a West Brom side managed by his former boss Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes fears he could miss a number of games.

That's worrying news for Martin O'Neill with Sunday week's crucial date with the Poles in mind.

The Derryman spoke in glowing terms about the 31-year-old at his squad announcement and he is a strong contender to start the game following an impressive campaign for his employers.

Hughes suggested the picture will become clearer today.

"Jon is our main concern at the moment," he said. "He looks as though he has a nasty bang on his cheekbone, which may well be a fracture and that will have to be checked on Monday.

Serious

"We hope it isn't but it's looking as though it could be a serious one that will keep him out for a few games."

Players with fractured cheekbones can sometimes return ahead of schedule if they wear a protective mask - depending on the severity of the damage.

On a happier note for O'Neill, James McCarthy struck for Everton in their 3-0 defeat of Newcastle.

The midfielder, who has been troubled by his hamstring throughout the season, was replaced by Mo Besic with four minutes to go as a precaution ahead of their crucial Europa League decider with Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine on Thursday.

Darron Gibson started next to McCarthy at Goodison with Seamus Coleman also involved but Aiden McGeady was again sidelined with a knee problem.

He is a worry for management but Robbie Brady is confident he can make a miraculous return from a calf complaint in time for international duty. Provisional squad members David McGoldrick (thigh) and Anthony Pilkington (hamstring) missed out for Ipswich and Cardiff respectively with issues that have caused them frustration in 2015.

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