Centre back crisis for Ireland…26/09/2019

The knee injury sustained by Richard Keogh following a car accident in the early hours of this morning is expected to rule him out for the remainder of the season. This, coupled with the calf injury which forced Shane Duffy off in last night’s EFL Cup match and is reported to rule him out of action for three weeks, means that Ireland will almost certainly be without their regular centre back pairing for next month’s crucial European Championship qualifiers against Georgia and Switzerland.

Manager Mick McCarthy will now face a dilemma with John Egan of Sheffield United, the only regular Premier League starter, being more comfortable in a back three formation and Kevin Long seeing very little action with Burnley. The only other experienced centre back is Ciaran Clark, but he too has seen little or no senior action this season.

Eighteen year old Nathan Collins was named in the last provisional squad but these contests are not the arenas in which to debut a novice. Blackburn Rovers duo Daragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams were also named in the previous provisional squad and may survive the cut on this occasion. They also may be more comfortable in a back three system.

A challenging situation for Mick McCarthy.