Worry for O'Neill as Darron Gibson joins list of injured
IRELAND manager Martin O'Neill is facing a midfield dilemma ahead of next month's crucial Euro 2016 qualifier with Scotland after Darron Gibson joined his list of concerns.
The Everton man, who is still in the process of trying to regain his best form after a year out with a cruciate problem, jarred his knee in training and is nervously waiting for an update on the extent of the damage.
Gibson is in line to replace Glenn Whelan if the Stoke man misses out. O'Neill has included the Dubliner in his provisional 36-man squad after learning that a fracture in his leg was not as serious as first feared.
Still, he acknowledged that the 30-year-old would have to make a remarkably quick recovery to be available for selection in a key area - which is why a Gibson knock is bad news.
"Darron has picked up some sort of injury in training," O'Neill said. "Darron is not playing that much as it is if you're going to be able to play central midfield. We'll have to make plans if some players are not fit."
The return of James McCarthy, who missed the draw in Germany, will strengthen O'Neill's engine room and he indicated that Derby's Jeff Hendrick, a key component of the comeback in Gelsenkirchen, could benefit from any withdrawals.
"I really think a lot of Jeff," said O'Neill, who is already planning without the services of Wes Hoolahan. "He's a really genuine kid. He's doing very well and I think he can improve. Injury has knocked him back a bit but he's getting fitter and more confident.
"His part in the equalising goal against Germany was fantastic. He's uppermost in my plans."
Hull's Brian Lenihan is the only uncapped member of O'Neill's panel which will be trimmed closer to the game.
The Irish boss had no update on Jack Grealish, stressing that the next move on the Aston Villa player's international future will have to come from his camp with England also keen to recruit him.