Tuesday 24 April 2018

Injured Hunt out for season

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Stephen Hunt has been ruled out for the rest of the Premier League season and is almost certain to miss Ireland's May friendlies with Algeria and Paraguay.

The Hull City winger underwent an exploratory operation on his foot yesterday, which revealed further damage to a niggling problem.

Given his outstanding form for his new club this term, it's a huge setback for Iain Dowie. "It's a big blow," he said. "Whenever you lose your top goalscorer it's going to be a blow.

"Stephen couldn't settle down and the pain returned. The surgeon had a look at it and decided to pin a little bone in there.

"It's disappointing for the lad. I spoke to him this morning and he is bitterly disappointed."

Hunt is unlikely to line out for the Tigers again. They are mired in debt and, after just managing to hold onto the Waterford man in January, they will have to cash in this summer regardless of whether they manage to beat the drop.

DUNDALK will stage European football at Oriel Park for the first time since 1991 this July after making the decision to upgrade their ground to meet UEFA criteria.

The Lilywhites will compete in the Europa League, but cannot stage the game on home soil unless they provide a 3,000 all-seater capacity; they will now have to install 1500 new seats and amend some existing ones which do not meet UEFA requirements.

A campaign to sell tickets in advance for their first game resulted in the booking of 1,200 tickets and owner Gerry Matthews has been happy with the response to justify pushing ahead with the refurbishments.

The venue staged famous European nights against the likes of Celtic, Spurs, Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven in the '70s and '80s but when they last qualified, in 2002, they were forced to play the home leg at Tolka Park due to inadequate facilities in Oriel Park.

The draw for the first and second rounds of the Europa League takes place on June 21. Dundalk enter at the initial stage, where they are likely to be seeded.

Irish Independent

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