A massive boost for Ireland.
Ireland’s chances of beating Slovakia in their Euro 2020 playoff have been given a boost with the news that Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar has been ruled out for the hosts after testing positive for Covid-19.
Skriniar tested positive for the virus while in camp with the Slovakian team and he was expected to start this evening,
The defender is the second Inter Milan player to test positive for the virus following Alessandro Bastoni.
Speaking before news of Skriniar’s absence broke, Stephen Kenny said: “We’re not reading too much into Slovakia’s missing players. We’re focusing on our own performance and it’s important that we play well regardless. We are missing three players from our original squad.”
Elsewhere, Slovakian midfielder Stanislav Lobotka will also miss the game due to coronavirus.
The Napoli player and his team-mates were placed in quarantine over the weekend after players Piotr Zielinski and Elif Elmas and staff member Giandomenico Costi tested positive for Covid-19.
Slovakia boss Pavel Hapal had hoped Lobotka would be allowed to join up with the Slovakia squad ahead of Thursday night’s showdown in Bratislava but that’s not going to happen.
A statement on Twitter from the Italian club said that Lobotka’s latest test had not yet been processed.
All but two of the COVID-19 tests carried out yesterday have come back negative. The last two are still being processed.
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) October 6, 2020
Injuries had already seen keeper Martin Dubrakva and defender David Hancko – who would also have been in their starting XI – ruled out.
Slovakia have already called up Erik Saba as cover for Lobotka, but his absence a blow.
Ireland had their own COVID worries this week when a member of the support staff tested positive, which saw them and two close contacts forced to isolate.
The last four matches between Slovakia and Ireland have all ended in draws, but there must be a winner tonight. The winner will face either Bosnia and Herzegovina or Northern Ireland in the next round.
Despite the COVID-related drama, kick-off in Bratislava between Slovakia and Ireland is at 19.45.