Darren Randolph has played down fears about his fitness ahead of World Cup duty this month.
But Stephen Kenny’s midfield options for the double-header away to Serbia and at home to Luxembourg, already limited by injury and lack of first-team action, have been further harmed by news that Jack Byrne will miss the rest of the season, his club in Cyprus confirming that the Dubliner had undergone surgery on a back problem.
Randolph was given a chance for West Ham in Saturday’s Premier League clash with league leaders Manchester City when first-choice ’keeper Lukasz Fabianski suffered an injury in a training ground accident on Friday.
The Wicklow native, who had been absent from the City squad in recent weeks due to a thigh strain, appeared to suffer a recurrence of that injury during the game and while he played on, he passed goal-kick duties on to one of his team-mates.
With Liverpool’s Caoimhín Kelleher also out with an injury, which has yet to be explained by his club, there were fears about Randolph’s fitness as the World Cup qualifiers loom into view but he insists he’s in good shape, though manager David Moyes hopes that a week’s rest will have Fabianski fit again for their next test, at home to Leeds United next Monday.
“I’m fine. It was just a little tiny reminder that it’s still there, but I’m fine,” he said of that thigh injury.
Kenny, who watched Portsmouth’s uncapped pair Seán Raggett and Marcus Harness as well as their Pompey team-mate Ronan Curtis last Saturday, knows he will definitely be missing James McClean and John Egan for the qualifiers later this month.
Midfield is a concern as Callum O’Dowda, Harry Arter and Robbie Brady are sidelined by injury, Brady again absent for Burnley in Wednesday’s meeting with Leicester while Arter is only due to resume training with Nottingham Forest next week. The midfield picture is complicated by the fact that Jeff Hendrick, Jayson Molumby and James McCarthy have played little football in the last month.
Bristol City confirmed that O’Dowda was back in full training after a hamstring injury which has kept him out of action since December, but manager Nigel Pearson insists that City’s absentees, including O’Dowda, would not be rushed back.
“There’s a temptation, due to necessity to hurry things along, but when they’re back I want them to stay back. We will get them back when they’re ready to play,” he said.
Former Shamrock Rovers man Byrne will not play for APOEL again this season as he will be out for three months following an operation on the back injury which has restricted his game time in Cyprus.