Time running out for Shane Long as striker gets injection on injured ankle
Ireland manager Martin O’Neill was non-committal when asked if he was confident whether John O’Shea and Shane Long would recover from injury in time to take any part in the Euro 2016 play-offs with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Speaking at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown, O’Neill conveyed that, with regards to the five players who have stayed behind with their clubs to receive treatment on various ailments, the Irish management team would be forced to play an anxious waiting game over the next two days.
John O’Shea is nursing a hamstring injury which prevented him from lining out for Sunderland in their loss to Southampton on Saturday, though he is suspended for Friday’s first leg in Zenica.
Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce seemed quite sure that the Waterford man would not feature at all, even in the second leg which is a week away.
O’Neill was slightly more optimistic with regards to his most experienced defender, though empathised with Allardyce’s position of wanting to protect a club asset.
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“John is just rehabilitating at Sunderland over the next couple of days; he is improving. Of course he wouldn’t be available for the first game. We’ll just monitor it day by day, he’s not feeling too bad but we’ll see. I think he thought the Sunderland game over the weekend might have come too early.
“There’s a few extra days and we’ll see how he is by Wednesday. Sam is obviously looking after his club. Naturally, if John was fit and available for us on Monday night that would be great,” he said.
Shane Long, who’s omission would be a serious blow given the suspension of Jon Walters, is still recovering from the ankle injury he sustained in Ireland’s loss to Poland in Warsaw, though he received treatment earlier today.
“Shane has seen a specialist today and I think he got an injection. He hasn’t ruled himself out at this moment. Naturally he hasn’t done that much work since he came off against Poland.
“That, again, might be one where the next couple of days will tell us just about everything. It would be great if he felt after the injection that his foot was fine and raring to go,” said O’Neill.
The same can be said for Brentford’s Alan Judge, Rob Elliot of Newcastle and Reading’s Paul McShane, all of whom are yet to arrive in camp as their fight for fitness continues.
For O’Neill, the current predicament is just part and parcel of international football, and he plans to adapt accordingly.
“It’s the nature of the game. I think that we have talent out there that are desperate to play and are keen to make an impression as well. It would be fantastic if you everybody available that you might have been selecting; it’s not going to happen,” he said.