Wales star Bale set to miss Dublin showdown
Gareth Bale is facing up to missing out on Wales' crucial World Cup qualifier in Dublin in March after it emerged that his injury could require a longer lay-off than the initial prognosis.
The Real Madrid star suffered a traumatic dislocation of the peroneal tendons of his right ankle in a Champions League game with Sporting Lisbon last month.
He has undergone surgery in Spain to treat the problem and, while it is understood that the treatment was a success, the AS newspaper says that Real will have to cope without him until April.
That would be good news for Ireland ahead of the March 24 Aviva Stadium encounter that will have a big say in World Cup Group D.
Ireland are four points clear of the top seeds after four matches and the visitors will be under pressure to deliver in the meeting of the Celtic neighbours. The absence of their talisman would be a massive blow for Wales.
Manager Chris Coleman had said earlier this week that he was optimistic about Bale's recovery time.
"I'm hoping it's going to be more like three months," he said, "He's an absolute machine and physically he's an absolute specimen."
Meanwhile, Ireland captain Seamus Coleman says that Everton have to use Sunday's date with Manchester United as the catalyst to get their flagging season back on track.
Ronald Koeman's side are under pressure after a run of just one win in their last eight league matches and Coleman has admitted that frustration is setting in.
"The way things are going at the minute, we just want to get out there and put things right," said the Donegal man, who has been touted as a possible target for United.
"When we come off that pitch we have to be able to look in the mirror. There have been some games recently where we have been nowhere near good enough."