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double-header Séamus Coleman set to miss Azerbaijan qualifer as Stephen Kenny prepares to name his Ireland squad

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Ireland manager Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Stephen Kenny expects to lose his battle to have captain Séamus Coleman available for next week’s World Cup qualifier away to Azerbaijan.

Kenny will today name his squad for the double-header of that qualifier in Baku on Saturday week and a home friendly against Qatar the following Tuesday.

His options have increased since last month’s international camp, which yielded just two points from three qualifiers and ended faint Irish hopes of making the play-offs for the World Cup, as Jason Knight (Derby County), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Mark Travers (Bournemouth) and Shane Long (Southampton), who all missed the triple-header, are back to fitness.

Midfield pair Alan Browne and Jayson Molumby miss the Baku trip through suspension while Dara O’Shea is out through injury.

Coleman has missed his club’s last three games with a hamstring injury and last week manager Rafa Benitez said he was “almost 100 per cent sure” that Coleman would not be back in time for international duty.

Coleman is desperate to be involved in Baku, particularly with the absence of defender O’Shea leaving Kenny with little cover.

But the Ireland boss, aware that James McClean’s insistence on turning up for international duty in March against the wishes of his club effectively cost McClean his career at Stoke City, will not risk a rift with the Toffees, will be hoping that Benitez gives the captain a chance to prove his fitness.

Kenny, who was in Wigan on Tuesday night to watch McClean, was encouraged to see Knight start for Derby County last night while O’Dowda is now an option for the first time in 11 months after injury.

He will also be hoping Matt Doherty can get game-time for Spurs in tonight’s European tie against Slovenian side Mura, after the Dubliner failed to even make the bench for Tottenham last weekend.

Earlier this week Kenny’s assistant Keith Andrews said the fitness of players out of favour at club level, such as Jeff Hendrick, “who are coming in undercooked, who haven’t kicked a ball for their clubs”, was a concern.


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