Sport Soccer

Saturday 18 November 2017

McCarthy in frame as Fahey ruled out

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

SHAY GIVEN gave Giovanni Trapattoni a scare when he strained his back on Saturday, but the Ireland manager can take comfort from the fact that Russia look certain to be without No 1 'keeper Igor Akinfeev for the crunch Euro 2012 qualifier in Moscow on September 6.

Given picked up his injury while playing for Aston Villa against Wolves and, although he finished the game, he had to use his left foot for kick-outs in the second half. He will stay in Birmingham for extra treatment today and will join up with the Ireland squad tomorrow.

CSKA 'keeper Akinfeev damaged a knee in the Moscow derby with rivals Spartak and left the field immediately.

That game was also notable from an Irish perspective as Aiden McGeady returned, albeit in only a brief cameo, following a long lay-off. The Spartak winger came off the bench with three minutes left.

Realistically, to have any prospect of qualifying automatically for the finals, Ireland need to beat Slovakia on Friday at the Aviva Stadium ahead of their trip to Moscow.

Midfielder Keith Fahey is definitely out of Friday's match because of a groin problem. Fahey would have provided the main back-up for central pair Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews after Darron Gibson was earlier ruled out with a foot injury.

Their absences leave Trapattoni thin on cover in that department. Wolves duo Stephen Ward and Kevin Foley could fill in, but both are more comfortable at full-back.

The shortage of midfield options brings the issue of Trapattoni's strained relationship with James McCarthy back into the spotlight.

The 20-year-old was rested by Wigan on Saturday with an ankle complaint but he appears to be on course to report for the Ireland U-21 qualifiers with Hungary and Turkey.

His prospects of a promotion to the senior squad depends on whether Trapattoni is prepared to enter two campaign-defining games with only makeshift cover in the central midfield department that was so comprehensively over-run in the first meeting with Russia last October.

Meanwhile, thousands of Ireland fans have been left in the lurch by a UEFA decision to veto Andorra's plans to move the October qualifier to Barcelona.

The tiny principality have a history of moving their biggest games to the Catalan capital to accommodate large bands of travelling fans and Ireland have played there twice previously.

However, UEFA have ruled out the move because Andorra have already played their home games against Russia and Slovakia at the 1,800-capacity Communal d'Andorra la Vella stadium high in the Pyrenees, where both visitors struggled.

Irish Independent

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