Tuesday 20 March 2018

Martin O'Neill facing midfield injury nightmare ahead of pivotal World Cup qualifiers

Martin O’Neill following defeat to Serbia
Martin O’Neill following defeat to Serbia
Aidan Fitzmaurice

Aidan Fitzmaurice

MARTIN O’Neill is facing a midfield nightmare for the must-win World Cup double header next month with Harry Arter now a major concern for the Ireland boss.

O’Neill, due in Dublin tomorrow to name his squad for the clashes with Moldova and Wales, has major problems in the midfield area.

James McClean and Robbie Brady are already  out through suspension, Jon Walters is a major doubt with a knee injury and James McCarthy, yet to play for club or country this season, is not expected to be fit in time.

And there was more bad news for O’Neill over the weekend when Wes Hoolahan picked up a knock on duty for Norwich City. Arter was not in the Bournemouth squad for their weekend loss to Everton, the first time he has not started in the Premier League for the Cherries this season and O’Neill was today waiting for a medical update from the club before naming his panel tomorrow.

Aiden McGeady and Jeff Hendrick did return to action over the weekend after spells out through injury.

Hendrick has been absent for over a month, but with three of his guaranteed starters in midfield - McClean, Brady and Walters - expected to miss out, Arter’s injury is a big worry for O’Neill.

Wes Hoolahan was in pain late on in Norwich’s 0-0 draw with Bristol City but club boss Daniel Farke hopes to have the 35-year-old back soon, possibly for tomorrow’s league game with Middlesbrough.

“Wes had some problems because he fell on his knees and he felt a lot of pain. I spoke with him and he said it was okay and better so hopefully it’s not too bad,” said Farke.

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