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The Unavailable XI: Ireland's World Cup Qualifier Injury Crisis

The Unavailable XI: Ireland's World Cup Qualifier Injury Crisis
By PJ Browne Updated

Martin O'Neill isn't quite down to the bare bones for Friday night's game against Wales but the ribs are starting to show in the Ireland squad.

Already, O'Neill has been shorn of five players who started against Austria last November.

The team that night: Randolph; Coleman, Duffy, Clark, Brady; Whelan, Hendrick; Arter, Hooalhan; McClean; Walters

Shane Duffy sustained a foot injury while playing for Brighton earlier this month. He wasn't even part of the 39-man provisional squad. Robbie Brady is unavailable due to suspension.

Brady picking up that card against Austria, for kicking away the ball to prevent a quick throw-in, is a moment which Martin O'Neill was critical of on Monday.

Robbie said on Sunday that he hadn’t known he had already picked up one yellow card, well you think that would be pretty foremost in your mind.

There are only two. That was kind of daft but it would be nice if he had have been available because he’s actually fit, so that’s the irony of it all.

Ciaran Clark is suffering from a knee injury, while Harry Arter has a calf problem. Wes Hoolahan was yesterday ruled out due to a thigh strain.

The list goes on, and on: David McGoldrick, who came on as a sub against Austria, Rob Elliot, Paul McShane, Liam Kelly and Daryl Murphy - all of whom were part of the 39-man provisional squad announced last week - are all unavailable due to various ailments.

O'Neill called it the lengthiest list of injuries he's had to deal with during his time as Ireland manager - and that was before Daryl Murphy withdrew from the squad.

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Roy Keane spoke to the media on Tuesday afternoon, providing an update on the fitness of various individuals within the Irish group. It is starting to sound ever more unlikely that James McCarthy will be available for the game. The Everton midfielder is suffering from a hamstring issue and hasn't trained with the group this week. Keane said that if McCarthy doesn't train on Wednesday, it's highly doubtful that he'll be available for Friday night.

The optimism which was there months ago - which briefly received buoyancy due to Gareth Bale being injured - is struggling to keep its head above water. Right now, most would gladly jump aboard the liferaft of a point from the game.

The extensive list of injuries for Ireland actually makes up a decent XI.

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See Also: Promising Young Aston Villa Player From Belfast Explains Why He's Declared For The Republic

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