Ireland manager named his squad with a couple of new faces
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has described the loss of Shane Duffy to injury as a "real blow" but has also expressed his delight that fellow defender John O'Shea is carrying on for another campaign.
O'Neill today unveiled his provisional squad to face Wales in a 2018 World Cup qualifier on March 24th and Iceland in a friendly on March 28th.
Brighton centre back Duffy is not included after sustaining a broken foot at the start of March.
However, the experienced O'Shea provides an option in defence after choosing to continue his long international career for one more campaign.
"Shane Duffy is a big injury blow for us. A real blow for us and for his club. He's been doing great for us," said O'Neill.
"I'm delighted [John O'Shea]'s around. It's worth reiterating his presence around the place. Hopefully if he gets through next week, hopefully he'll be with us in the squad because he's a great influence."
Two of the new faces in the senior squad are defender John Egan of Brentford and Reading midfielder Liam Kelly, both of whom have been capped by the under-21s.
"I've watched the both of them and I know John from my days at Sunderland. He was only a kid then. He's got a great attitude to the game," said O'Neill.
"Liam Kelly, I don't know personally at all but he's played pretty regularly for Reading."
Two new faces from the previous squad who return are Preston North End duo Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle, who were with League of Ireland champions Dundalk.
"Overall, they're doing fine. They're just settling in. Andy's getting into the side for the last couple of games. It's been great for them after their exploits for Dundalk and getting into our squad - a combination of those things - and coming to the attention of Preston. They're doing well so it's good news," said O'Neill.
Former Celtic striker and three time Ireland cap Cillian Sheridan is not involved but recently left Omonia in Cyprus for Poland title contenders Jagiellonia Białystok which could give O'Neill a greater chance of monitoring the 28 year old Cavan native's progress.
"I will try and get myself across there (to Poland) to see him," he said, adding that it was encouraging that the reason for Sheridan's transfer seems to be to also boots his chances of an Ireland call up.