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injury woes Aaron Connolly emerges as Ireland doubt for must-win Luxembourg clash

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Aaron Connolly of Ireland pictured ahead of last Wednesday's Group A match against Serbia in Belgrade. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Aaron Connolly of Ireland pictured ahead of last Wednesday's Group A match against Serbia in Belgrade. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Aaron Connolly of Ireland pictured ahead of last Wednesday's Group A match against Serbia in Belgrade. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Aaron Connolly is Stephen Kenny’s main injury concern ahead of tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier with Luxembourg. 

The Brighton striker was a doubt for Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat to Serbia after struggling with a fractured rib in recent weeks.

His 67-minute appearance was his first outing since February 27 and he was feeling the effects of cramp and what appeared to be a calf issue before his withdrawal.

Connolly was being assessed in the Irish team hotel last night after a recovery day, with the team back training fully today in a quick turnaround ahead of the Aviva Stadium encounter.

James Collins and Shane Long will be on standby if Connolly misses out although Kenny could opt to rejig his formation regardless. He was keen to use Connolly in central areas and he felt his partnership with Callum Robinson was a good fit for a 3-5-2 approach.

However, the Ireland boss may look to go with a central striker and two wide players against Luxembourg which would also potentially bring James McClean and Robbie Brady into the equation as left-sided options.

Meanwhile, Luxembourg have leaned on their government to intervene in a row over release of players for international duty and they will now have key midfielder Vincent Thill available.

The 36-times-capped player, one of three Thill brothers in the squad to face Ireland, had been denied permission by his Portuguese employer Nacional to report for the national team, with his Madeira-based club claiming that the player would have to quarantine upon his return and miss key games in their relegation battle.

But after representations from Luxembourg’s foreign ministry, their embassy in Lisbon and an appeal to FIFA, the club have reluctantly agreed to release Thill and he will join the squad in Dublin today in time for a training session at the Aviva Stadium tonight.

Yet there was a blow for Luxembourg as Dutch-based defender Mica Pinto picked up an injury in Wednesday’s friendly defeat to Qatar and misses out. Luxembourg, ranked 98th in the world, come to Dublin on a run of three defeats and a draw in their last four games.

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