McClean injury adds to O'Neill's Welsh crisis
Ireland's hand for their UEFA Nations League opener in Wales was further weakened yesterday after a training-ground injury ruled out James McClean.
The Derryman needed surgery after fracturing his wrist in a fall and will not be available for the return to Cardiff.
He was Ireland's match-winner when the sides met there in a World Cup qualifier last October.
His unavailability is a further setback for Martin O'Neill in light of Declan Rice's decision to turn down a call as he considers his options and Harry Arter's decision to take a break from the international sphere following his row with Roy Keane.
O'Neill also lost Shane Long to injury over the weekend and will have to wait another month to have Robbie Brady and James McCarthy available again.
It means he will be facing into the first competitive game since the bruising World Cup playoff defeat to Denmark with an extremely patched-up side.
Shane Duffy and David Meyler were involved in the Abbotstown training session before flying to Wales. They had missed Monday's training session with minor niggles.
Jon Walters also participated and the loss of Long and McClean means the 34-year-old is a certain starter.
He is the only member of the panel with a track record of scoring goals at international level with 14 goals to his name. The next best available to O'Neill is left-back Stephen Ward with three.
Meanwhile, the FAI have refused to comment on reports linking Ireland to a role in an English-driven bid for the 2030 World Cup - but it's understood they have not been officially approached as of yet.
The English FA is currently carrying out a feasibility study to decide if it's worth bidding for the 2030 showpiece and a UK-only bid consisting of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had already been floated.
Ironically enough, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter had previously suggested that bringing Ireland in would draw votes.
It now appears that it is one of the options being considered by the English hierarchy as a solution to a major complication – there is no suitable stadium in Belfast.
However, it’s difficult to see how bringing Dublin into the mix would justify Northern Ireland’s status.
And a natural obstacle is that FIFA would not grant automatic qualification places to five countries.
The early front-runners for 2030 is a joint South American bid made up of Argentina, Paraguay and 1930 hosts Uruguay.