SportSoccer

EXCLUSIVE - Shane Long set to be fit for Euro 2016 play-offs

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Long was in agony as he left the field on Sunday
Long was in agony as he left the field on Sunday

Shane Long looks set to be fit for the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 play-off games after an initial assessment on the ankle injury sustained by the Southampton striker in Poland on Sunday reported no serious damage.

Long was named in Martin O’Neill’s starting line-up for the decisive qualifier in Warsaw after his goal against Germany three days before paved the way for a famous win against the world champions at the Aviva Stadium.

Yet a crunching challenge ended Long’s participation in Ireland’s final Group D qualifier, with boss O’Neill unsure whether the injury he had sustained would affect the striker’s hopes of playing a full role in next month’s play-off matches.

Now Southampton’s medical staff are reporting that Long suffered “no break or ligament damage” from the incident and they are hoping that the forward will return to action in the next two weeks.

The news will come as a big boost to O’Neill and Ireland, with Robbie Keane seemingly longer considered to be a starter and Ipswich striker Daryl Murphy not doing enough in his performance against Germany to justify a regular stating spot.

Ireland will discover who they will play in the Euro 2016 play-offs on Sunday morning, with Ukraine, Sweden, Hungary and Bosnia & Herzegovina all possible opponents.