Just when it looked as though Jonathan Walters’ playing role in Ireland’s World Cup 2018 qualification campaign looked to be over, Burnley manager Sean Dyche has offered hope.
The Clarets’ forward was, as recently as Wednesday, reported to be sidelined until Christmas with a knee injury – a knock that ruled him out of Ireland’s recent wins against Moldova and Wales and was supposed to rule him out of the playoffs next month – but Dyche has now suggested that this may not actually be the case.
Speaking to the media ahead of Burnley’s Premier League clash with West Ham this weekend, the manager said that there is no timeframe yet set for Walters’ recovery, and if it heals in time then there is every chance that the 34-year-old will feature for the Boys in Green in November:
“We are still not putting timescales on it. But it won’t be days, it will be weeks.
“We are hopeful it will settle down quickly. It already is.
“We were getting a specialist’s view of it, it needed a period to calm down. It’s a historical injury, a wear-and-tear injury and needed time to calm down.
“Once it has settled down, it’s getting strength through the knee and that’s where we are at.”
Walters, along with captain Seamus Coleman, were brought along with the squad by Martin O’Neill for the two matches – an arrangement that Dyche was perfectly happy with:
“There was nothing he could do away with Ireland which would comprise his rehab.
“I think the lines of communication between clubs and country are a lot more open (than they used to be). Jon has been important to the group there, a good professional.
“It was clear to everyone he wasn’t going to play and there was good information shared by both sides.”
Whether or not that means Walters will ultimately be risked by O’Neill remains to be seen (though the manager’s practice of picking a half-fit James McCarthy increases the former Stoke man’s chances no end), though even if he doesn’t recover in time he is still likely to be part of the squad as they look to book their place in Russia.
In this weeks episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast we reflect on Ireland’s fantastic result in Wales, discuss the future of Irish football with Joe Gamble and analyse the latest League of Ireland Premier Division action.