Shane Long has emerged as a major doubt for Ireland’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Austria next month. The Southampton frontman sustained a foot injury against Middlesbrough last week, and sat out the weekend’s clash with Manchester United.
The Tipperary-native is now in a race to make it back for the Austria clash, according to the Irish Daily Star today.
Long also missed the away trip to Vienna last November, when the Boys in Green gained a valuable three points courtesy of a James McClean goal in the second half.
While he has struggled for goals this season, his first-half strike away to Moldova set Ireland on their way for a victory last October.
He remains Martin O’Neill’s most potent striking threat, as the next steps are taken on the road to Russia 2018.
Long was included in the initial 38-man squad this week, as Ireland also face Mexico and Uruguay next month. There were controversial omissions of in-form strikers Sean Maguire and Cillian Sheridan.
There were controversial omissions of in-form strikers Sean Maguire and Cillian Sheridan.
Ireland are currently second in Group D, level on points with leaders Serbia. Wales and Austria are four points behind.
Following a rocky start, David Alaba and Co. are coming to Dublin knowing that anything less than three points would crush any realistic hopes of automatic qualification.
Make sure to check out this week’s episode of The Mixer, Pundit Arena’s Irish football podcast.