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O´Neill hopeful Long can face Bosnia

Martin O’Neill hopes striker Shane Long will be fit for the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifying play-off after being drawn against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Long suffered an ankle ligament injury as O’Neill’s side lost 2-1 away to Poland in their final qualifier, condemning them to third spot in Group D behind Germany and their conquerors in Warsaw, who claimed second.

O’Neill now faces a nervous wait over the availability of the Southampton forward for the first leg in Bosnia, to be held between November 12-14.

“We have a couple of weeks,” he said following Sunday’s draw in Nyon.

“I spoke to Shane a few days ago and he’s optimistic. Like anything else sometimes with these injuries you’re going well and then four or five days when the injury doesn’t seem to be healing as quickly as you’d imagine.”

While Long could yet feature, John O’Shea and Jonathan Walters are banned for the first leg due to a sending off against Poland and an accumulation of yellow cards respectively. 

“We’ve got a few problems to negotiate, we’ve got a couple of suspensions that are there,” O’Neill said.

“Who knows what might happen in the next couple of weeks – injuries are always a possibility.

“Whatever comes we will go for it. We will give it absolutely everything we have got to get to France.”

O’Neill welcomed the fact his team will host the second leg of the tie, but knows Ireland cannot afford a poor result on the road.

“If there’s any slight advantage to be had maybe it’s our second game being played in Dublin,” he said.

“But that said we need to perform out in Bosnia to make sure that second game means something and that will not be easy but we’re there and we have a chance.”

Bosnia, meanwhile, will be wary of their opponents, who upset World Cup winners Germany 1-0 in Dublin earlier this month.

“I think that Ireland play similarly to Wales and their latest result against Germany says enough about their quality,” defender Mensur Mujdza said.

“It will not be easy, but it wouldn’t be easy against Slovenia, Denmark or Norway either.”

Sun 18 Oct, 2015
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