Thursday 18 January 2018

O'Neill faces wait over Coleman and Wilson

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is anxiously waiting for fitness updates on defenders Seamus Coleman and Marc Wilson before finalising his squad for the concluding Euro qualifiers which begin on Thursday against world champions Germany.

First-choice right-back for Everton and Ireland, Coleman hasn't fully recovered since hobbling out of the Toffees' win over Chelsea on September 12 and will probably need to feature in tomorrow's Merseyside derby to convince Roberto Martinez of his readiness for international duty.

Concern about the Donegal native's availability for the double-header, completed by a trip to face Poland tomorrow week, intensified on Monday after he failed to make the match-day squad for Everton's game at West Brom.

Stoke City central defender Wilson, meanwhile, is set to be sidelined for the second week in a row due to a calf strain. After missing last Saturday's win over Bournemouth, the Antrim man is still feeling sore and must be considered a major doubt for Ireland's games.

Stephen Quinn's prospects of replacing the suspended Glenn Whelan in the midfield engine-room appear doomed after his Reading boss Steve Clarke insisted a thigh strain will force him out of the weekend action, whilst Harry Arter is another potential candidate afflicted by injury troubles which have prevented him from sampling any game-time so far this season.

Irrespective of whichever team O'Neill can put out on Thursday, German manager Joachim Low has tried to temper expectation in his homeland by highlighting the strength of their opponents.

"Playing against Ireland in Dublin is not something you can take lightly," cautioned Low.

"We already knew how dangerous the Irish were even before we met them in the reverse fixture (a 1-1 draw)."

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