Wednesday 15 June 2016

Jonathan Walters Could Miss Ireland's Clash With Belgium

Jonathan Walters is a major doubt for the Republic of Ireland's key Euro 2016 showdown with Belgium on Saturday after aggravating his achilles injury. The 32-year-old Stoke striker limped off 63 minutes into Monday night's 1-1 draw with Sweden at the Stade de France and later admitted he had been in pain from the start after a week-long battle to make himself available.

Speaking to FAI TV on Tuesday afternoon, manager Martin O'Neill said “Jon Walters, obviously, would be the main concern.  I'd say he would be pretty doubtful for the second game coming up”. The Republic cancelled their scheduled training session at their Versailles base on Tuesday morning as the players instead were put through a light recovery session, but it is understood Walters was not involved as he underwent treatment.

He will hope his tournament is not over - he seems unlikely to figure against the Belgians in Bordeaux, but will keep his fingers crossed with Italy to come in Lille on June 22 - although his injury is a concern for O'Neill. Ireland may have to win one of their remaining games if they are to force their way out of the group after passing up the opportunity to do that against the Swedes on a night when they played well enough to claim three points, but just could not hang on to their lead. They came within 19 minutes of victory before they were pegged back by Ciaran Clark's own goal and while there was disappointment that two points went begging, there was also satisfaction and optimism after a promising display.

O'Neill said: “Three points would have been fantastic. Like anything, when the game goes 1-1 and it absolutely and utterly opens up as it did do, then there might be a possibility of losing it. But we were as positive as we could be, all our substitutions were positive to try to get the goal, so the players are disappointed, but certainly not downbeat. In fact, they are actually very proud of themselves

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