Following a truly historic night in Cardiff for Ireland, Martin O’Neill is currently plotting for next month’s play-off which will determine if the Boys in Green can reach their first World Cup in 16 years.
Ireland picked up a maximum six points over the weekend, with Daryl Murphy and James McClean contributing in the scoring department against Moldova and Wales respectively. Ireland’s strikeforce was depleted for the trip to Cardiff with the absence of Shane Long and Jon Walters.
Today, Sky Sports are reporting that the Burnley frontman will be out “until at least Christmas”, thus missing out on Ireland’s play-off next month.
This comes as a blow to the side, as the experience and athleticism of Walters have proven crucial at times throughout the campaign, particularly in the home tie with Austria when he scored a late equaliser.
Ireland have to wait until Tuesday to learn their opponents for the play-off, as they will be drawn with one of Italy, Croatia, Denmark and Switzerland.
Walters will certainly be a major loss, as it was his brace which sealed Ireland’s play-off win over Bosnia and Herzegovina two years ago.
With Daryl Murphy in scoring form, Shane Long likely to recover, and Sean Maguire having the benefit of a competitive international appearance under his belt, O’Neill does have cover in the forwards.