Ahead of Ireland’s crucial World Cup qualifier clash with Austria on Sunday at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, their opponents have a cause for concern with their growing list of injuries.
The latest key figure to be ruled out of the fixture is their all-time leading goalscorer, Marc Janko.
Janko signed for Sparta Prague on Tuesday, moving from Basel. The 33-year-old, who is Austria’s top scorer with 28 goals in 63 games, has been deemed unfit to line out this weekend as a result of tonsillitis.
The Austrian football federation have stated that manager, Marcel Koller, has called up Graz forward Deni Alar in place of Janko. Alar is uncapped at senior international level and is unlikely to fall straight into the starting line-up as a direct replacement for the proven goalscorer that is Janko.
Other squad regulars who will be forced to sit out the Group D qualifier on Sunday include goalkeepers Robert Almer, Andreas Lukse and midfielder Alessandro Schoepf through injury. Meanwhile, another midfield duo, Marko Arnautovic and Stefan Ilsanke will be in the stands through suspension.
This is a crunch game in the grand scheme of the qualifying group, with Ireland and Serbia currently sharing the lead on the top of the group, four points ahead of Austria and Wales. With only the winner of the group guaranteed automatic qualification to the World Cup in Russia in 2018, the second placed team go into a draw for a play-off to get to the tournament.
A win for the boys in green would see Martin O’Neill’s side complete the double over Austria in the group and certainly put them in a strong position to progress to Russia automatically.