Saturday 17 February 2018

McClean scare adds to O'Neill's worries

The Irish camp are now waiting on the results of a scan on a setback that McClean picked up while doing some fitness work at West Brom. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
The Irish camp are now waiting on the results of a scan on a setback that McClean picked up while doing some fitness work at West Brom. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

James McClean has emerged as a major worry for Ireland's World Cup qualifier in Austria with Roy Keane admitting he is concerned that a back injury could hinder the winger.

McClean scored twice in Moldova last month and is an important part of Martin O'Neill's preparations for Saturday's crucial Vienna encounter because of an injury crisis in the squad.

The loss of Shane Long and Daryl Murphy has weakened his attacking options and Robbie Brady could be required at left-back because of Stephen Ward's unavailability.

McClean is a goal threat that can feature in an advanced role, but the Irish camp are now waiting on the results of a scan on a setback that he picked up while doing some fitness work at West Brom.

"It's not good. I never like when I hear players in around the back area," said the Irish number two.

"It's not a good area. If you said to me he got a kick on his knee or his ankle, that's fine. But tweaks in backs. I don't like the sound of it.

"Apparently, he was doing some work at his club - he was suspended for the weekend and lads sometimes go in and do a bit extra.

"I suppose the plus was he didn't get injured on our watch so we can't get blame for it"

That was an unsubtle reference to the ongoing row between Ireland and Everton over James McCarthy's absence and the general availability of their players for international duty with Keane adding his two cents.

Read more: 'I don't care about Ronald Koeman' - Roy Keane hits out as war over James McCarthy continues

He believes Everton should look closer to home as explanation for any injury problems that have overlapped with Irish gatherings rather than attributing any difficulties to O'Neill's decision to involve McCarthy last month and Seamus Coleman in September's match with Serbia.

"They get lots of injuries with players who are not playing international football so they might have a look at themselves at club level," said Keane.

"When he (Ronald Koeman) is coming out and saying we're taking unnecessary risks with any player, not just the Everton players, he couldn't be further off the mark."

John O'Shea missed yesterday's proceedings in Abbotstown but is expected to be present at this morning's training session.

Eunan O'Kane sat out the first activity of the week with a groin problem while striker Kevin Doyle only played a small part after flying in from Colorado and Dundalk duo Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan also sat out the serious business due to their FAI Cup exertions.

Irish Independent

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