Denmark facing injury crisis ahead of World Cup play-off with Martin O'Neill's Ireland
Martin O’Neill will today, as he assembles his Ireland squad for their first training session ahead of that World Cup play-off with Denmark, rue to the loss to injury of striker Seán Maguire, now facing three months on the sidelines as he needs surgery on a hamstring problem.
But his counterpart Age Hareide would envy O’Neill’s situation as Denmark are facing some serious injury woes ahead of Saturday’s first leg in Copenhagen, four players potentially absent from the Danish squad including two defenders and a striker who were almost certain to start.
While the Irish players will be put through their paces at a training session in Dublin today, the Danish squad have a day off and will only start work tomorrow.
By then, Hareide will be looking at his walking wounded but the state of their squad is a concern.
Defender Simon Kjaer suffered an injury while in action for Sevilla against Barcelona on Saturday night and while he will be assessed by the Danes today, the centre back is a major doubt.
Nicloai Jorgensen, who played in all but three of Denmark’s 10 group games, is also a big concern. He fractured his wrist while in action for Feyenoord in the Dutch league yesterday, and while he was able to play on, his wrist is now in a cast and it would be a big leap for him to feature on Saturday.
Brentford full-back Henrik Dalsgaard, who would almost certainly have started at right full, is definitely out of the Danish squad through injury while his club-mate Andreas Bjelland is not expected to be fit.
O’Neill will need to see how fit his squad are when they report for duty, John O’Shea his main worry as he picked up a calf injury in Sunderland’s loss to Middlesbrough yesterday. But he knows he will be missing Maguire, who suffered a torn hamstring last week and needs an operation which would rule the forward - who was in Dublin yesterday to see his former side Cork City land the FAI Cup - for three months.
“Seán’s injury is devastating for us,” Preston boss Alex Neil said.
“He has the same injury as Greg Cunningham which means he requires surgery and will be out for the best part of three to four months.” O’Neill will have picked up some positives from the weekend, Maguire apart.
Daryl Murphy was a welcome presence in the Nottingham Forest side for their 4-0 win over QPR, the Waterford native absent for their previous two games with a hamstring complaint.
Murphy didn’t score in Forest’s win but did deliver a strong display, while compatriot Callum O’Dowda enjoyed his weekend. The midfielder scored for Bristol City in their 2-1 win over Cardiff City, O’Dowda’s first league goal since his 2016 move from Oxford United.
“We have two games with Denmark now, It’s going to be tough but positive results there and we’ll be going to the World Cup,” says O’Dowda ahead of the internationals.
There was more misery for the four-strong Irish contingent at a dismal Sunderland side but joy for Middlesbrough duo Darren Randolph and Cyrus Christie in their 1-0 victory over the Black Cats.