Ireland will be without defender Ciaran Clark for their upcoming matches against Celtic, France and the United States.
The Newcastle United centre-half had been included in Martin O’Neill’s monster 40-man provisional squad for the upcoming summer friendlies, but his club have confirmed that he will be absent as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
Clark was absent for much of the Magpies’ Premier League run-in as Rafa Bentiez’s side consolidated their Premier League status for the season. Indeed, the 28-year-old has failed to make a single appearance for the club since early February. His was, however, deemed fit enough to feature in the last 20 minutes of Ireland’s 1-0 friendly defeat to Turkey in late March.
Newcastle confirmed that Clark will stay at the club for further treatment over the summer, in the hope of regaining full fitness before the new Premier League season kicks off in August.
In Clark’s absence, O’Neil is likely to give Declan Rice further chances to shine. The West Ham youngster earned rave reviews (and the man of the match award) for his display on his debut in the aforementioned defeat in Turkey, and he will likely partner Shane Duffy (and Kevin Long if O’Neill uses three at the back again) in at least one of the matches.
It was also confirmed recently that Sunderland defender John O’Shea will start against the USA at the Aviva, leading the team out one final time before retiring from international duty.