Hunt faces hip operation as injury jinx strikes again
STEPHEN HUNT is facing another spell on the sidelines after it was confirmed that he requires an operation to cure a hip problem.
It is the latest setback in a miserable 2012 for the 31-year-old, who spent the early part of the year battling to make Ireland's squad for the European Championship finals and then didn't see a minute's action in Poland.
Hunt, who is in the final year of a lucrative contract at Wolves, where he has dropped down the pecking order, is expected to return to action in December.
There is better news concerning Stephen Ward, who should be fit for Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Germany on Friday week after being told that the ankle knock he shipped last Saturday is nothing to worry about.
West Brom striker Shane Long is likely to be restricted to the role of impact sub for the German encounter, and the in-form Tipp native may have to tolerate some bench-time at club level as well.
Long, who opened the scoring in for the Baggies in their 1-1 draw at Aston Villa at the weekend, has been told that he will split lone striker duties with on-loan Chelsea star Romelu Lukaku.
Meanwhile, Ireland U-19 manager Paul Doolin has sprung a surprise by promoting 15-year-old Noe Baba to his squad for next week's UEFA Championship first- phase qualifiers in Luxembourg.
The Cameroon-born defender is currently in Macedonia captaining Ireland U-17s, who face the host nation of their mini-group today.
It's the first time Doolin has fast-tracked a player two years out of his age-group, but he feels Baba is an exception.
The defender was just 10 when his family moved from Cameroon to Castlebar and received his first Ireland cap when he was just 13.
Both Manchester clubs are interested in signing the Castlebar Celtic sensation, though Glasgow Celtic are now in pole position to capture him.