Monday 18 November 2019

Injured Doyle out of O'Neill's extended Ireland squad

Republic of Ireland's Kevin Doyle is troubled with a thigh injury
Republic of Ireland's Kevin Doyle is troubled with a thigh injury
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill

DION FANNING

Kevin Doyle is out of Ireland's game with Serbia on Wednesday, the FAI confirmed last night.

Doyle played 90 minutes for QPR yesterday but is troubled with a thigh injury. He joins Andy Reid and Rob Elliot in pulling out of the squad.

Martin O'Neill has decided against formally reducing the squad and will instead wait and see how many players from the original 29 arrive in Dublin today.

When the squad was announced 10 days ago, O'Neill had intended to reduce the selection to 23, but with several Irish players involved in games today and a couple of players carrying injuries that are likely to prevent them playing, there is no need for O'Neill to reduce numbers further.

O'Neill had suggested that Richard Dunne could be one of those omitted from the final group but the QPR website confirmed last week that he would be travelling for the game.

Doyle was also expected to travel and it will be a disappointment for the striker who had hoped that his loan move to QPR would bring an end to his tough spell and signal a more positive international future after his exclusion under Trapattoni since the European Championships.

O'Neill arrives in Dublin this afternoon and will meet the press before attending the President's Cup game between St Pat's and Sligo Rovers at Richmond Park, alongside Roy Keane. The pair will then meet up with the Irish squad at the FAI International Awards at the RTE studios in Donnybrook.

O'Neill will hope that the players who assemble for Ireland's games in the summer are among his first-rank group, but there is no guarantees at the end of the season. With the August friendly now abolished, Wednesday's game will be an opportunity to form some firmer ideas about his side.

Reid and Darron Gibson will hope to return for the summer games. Reid, exiled for so long and so unfairly under Trapattoni, had a hernia operation last week. Gibson, meanwhile, should be back in action before the end of the season.

O'Neill watched Watford play Blackpool – for whom Kevin Foley made his debut – yesterday, while Keane headed to the Britannia to see the Irish collection at Stoke record a 1-0 win over Arsenal. Jonathan Walters scored the winning goal from the penalty spot.

Serbia's squad for Wednesday's game would arguably be considered even more interesting with a recall for Roma's Adem Ljajic, who had been exiled by former coach Sinisa Mihajlovic after he refused to sing the national anthem.

Ljajic, a Muslim, didn't sing the anthem before Serbia played Spain, but he was recalled by acting coach Ljubinko Drulovic.

O'Neill will want the hopefulness surrounding his appointment to continue beyond this week's game. He spoke eloquently on Friday about his commitment to the domestic game in Ireland. This week will provide him with more information about the strength of the international side.

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