Tuesday 21 January 2020

'I'm raring to go' - Jon Walters sounds World Cup battle cry

Stephen Ward, left, and Jonathan Walters
Stephen Ward, left, and Jonathan Walters

Dan McDonnell

JON WALTERS says the absence of his Stoke team-mate Marko Arnautovic is a positive for Ireland ahead of tomorrow's World Cup date with Austria but has warned against underestimating the alternatives.

Arnautovic misses the game through suspension. He is a key member of the Austrian squad, and scored both goals in their draw with Wales last October as well as the breakthrough strike in their struggle with Moldova.

Visiting boss Marcel Koller is light on players that can put the ball in the net with natural front man Marc Janko also on the sidelines. The three strikers in his depleted squad have yet to score at international level.

"He's been a little bit inconsistent this year but when he's on it, he's a very difficult player to play against," said Walters. "But as we've alluded to, they've got a very strong team and sometimes it's the players sitting in the background that are dangerous.

We saw that ourselves against Wales. We were depleted then and still gave a good performance. But Marko is a big miss for them. He can create something out of nothing."

Walters is fit to lead the line tomorrow with Ireland looking to extend the gap between themselves and Austria to seven points with a win. Ireland are currently joint top with Serbia and Austria joint third with Wales - it means that if the Serbs also make use of home advantage against Chris Coleman's side in Belgrade then the front two will be clear of the pack.

"There's still a long way to go," said Walters, "The gap would be bigger but we know that even if we win, there's some very difficult games ahead."

"I'm feeling fine," added Walters, who was a slight injury worry earlier this week.

"I trained the last few days and I’m raring to go for tomorrow."

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