Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill has announced a 36-man provisional squad for the Republic of Ireland’s forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland in Glasgow on November 14. This squad will also play a friendly fixture against the United States in Dublin on November 18.
O’Neill has included the Everton duo of James McCarthy and Séamus Coleman in his squad after both missed the matches against Gibraltar and Germany in early October.
There is no call-up however for Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish who was tipped to make his debut in the USA friendly at the Aviva Stadium. Stoke’s Glenn Whelan is included despite a broken leg suffered in the Germany game but there is no place for Wes Hoolahan of Norwich, who damaged ankle ligaments with his club after returning from international duty.
Midfielder Whelan sustained a leg fracture in the 1-1 draw against Germany in Gelsenkirchen on October 14 and was all but ruled out of the Group D showdown against Scotland in Celtic’s Parkhead Stadium by his Stoke City boss Mark Hughes.
However, O’Neill says that Whelan’s injury is “clearing up” after naming him in his initial squad of 36. “Glenn’s in the squad at this moment,” O’Neill said. “Initially, I thought he was going to be out for some time and while he is still struggling, the injury itself is actually clearing up and he’s giving himself every possible chance.
“He’s getting better by the day, he’s still not weight-bearing but I’ll give him every opportunity. Even if I hadn’t included him in the squad here today, if he had felt he would be able to play, I would have reinstated him,” O’Neill added.
Former Cork City defender Brian Lenihan has also made his way into the squad after impressing in training in the lead up to the qualifiers against Gibraltar and Germany in October. However, the uncapped fullback is unlikely to remain in the squad when the panel is trimmed down to a suitable size on November 10.
“I thought for a young lad coming in with senior players he might have been a little bit nervous but he didn’t show it in the little games we played – in fact he did very, very well,” said O’Neill.
“It was always going to be an ask for him to be playing in those games [Gibraltar and Germany] and while he may be a natural right-back where David Meyler isn’t, we needed some experience down that side, particularly out in Germany.”
O’Neill went on to say, “It would have been harsh to have put him in there for that game [against world champions Germany], but he impressed enough to warrant being put in the squad at this minute. Obviously when we cut it down, we’ll see how it develops but he impressed everyone.”
With November’s clash against Scotland proving to be a significant fixture, O’Neill is hoping that his players’ boosted confidence thanks to their result against Germany will help them secure a potentially pivotal result against their Group D rivals.
“To score in the last minute of the game and get something from the world champions on their own pitch was really just fantastic. The players have naturally gained confidence from that.”
“Scotland will not be easy – absolutely not. They’re flying at the moment, Gordon Strachan has them playing very well and they had a great result out in Poland. If nothing else, we must go there with some confidence.”
Ireland currently sit in second place in Group D on seven points, three points ahead of Scotland.