Ireland faced a huge blow as team captain Seamus Coleman acquired injury, described as “minor” by his club boss Carlo Ancelotti, during the 4-2 defeat of Brighton last weekend. Ireland boss Stephen Kenny has confirmed that the Irish skipperis “most likely” to miss playoff match against Slovakia after suffering a hamstring injury. Kenny’s Ireland are due to play their semi-final in Bratislava on October 8.
“He’s just disappointed,” said Kenny who has spoken to the right-back over the phone. “He loves playing for his country. He’s a very passionate Irishman. Ireland travel to Bratislava needing only two wins to reach the championships after a qualifying campaign that started under Mick McCarthy. “It’s a very important game and he doesn’t want to miss out on it,” Kenny added.
If Ireland beat Slovakia, Kenny’s side will face either Northern Ireland or Bosnia-Herzegovina in a playoff final on November 12 for a place in the finals next summer. Kenny revealed that he will call somebody up to take over Coleman’s position while he rest. However, he declined to identify the player as contact has not been made with said player’s club.
The play-off game is due to go ahead despite the Slovakian government considering a state of emergency after the spike of coronavirus cases in the country. Earlier, Slovakia was removed from the Irish Government’s Green List, banning Irish citizens to travel in there. However, an exception is being made for a 45-strong travelling party from the FAI, including staff and players.
Coleman is added to the list of injury woes for Ireland as Robbie Brady looks set to miss the same match following the injury acquired last month. Burnley’s Kevin Long has also been called up to replace injured Blackburn defender Darragh Lenihan. Lenihan had already been ruled out for the trip after picking up an injury in training last week. Harry Arter is also among other injury concerns.
The Ireland manager is also waiting on more updates on midfielder Arter who came off with a thigh issue during Nottingham Forest’s 2-1 loss to Bristol City. “We’ll wait and see on Harry Arter, how he is. He came off yesterday with a slight thigh issue,” Kenny said. Meanwhile, Jack Byrne is fit to feature despite picking up a groin injury with Shamrock Rovers 4-0 defeat.
Last year, Ireland were knocked from first place to third in Euro 2020 qualifying group D as Denmark ended the group with 16 points and sealed their qualification next to group winners Switzerland. The winners of the playoffs will complete the teams that will compete in the postponed Euro 2020 next year. All matches are reportedly going to be played behind closed doors.