sport

McClean out for Republic

Martin O'Neill has ruled James McClean out of Republic of Ireland's opening European Qualifier, but feels his side will be well prepared after beating Oman.

Wigan midfielder McClean has not regained full match-fitness after recovering from an ankle injury and manager O'Neill has reluctantly accepted that he will not be able to play in Georgia on Sunday.

O'Neill had hoped to play McClean in Wednesday night's 2-0 friendly victory over Oman at the Aviva Stadium, but he did not even make the bench and has now been withdrawn from the squad.

The manager said: "James McClean, unfortunately, has not come through. It's not that he has picked up any fresh injury or anything like that. James is disappointed, in a sense. He thinks he is further on.

"My concern with James really is while the injury has healed up, he hasn't played that much contact football. We put him in yesterday, he didn't do too badly at all, but I thought everything was just maybe too much for him.

"Wigan weren't really that keen about him playing either, and I understand that from a club viewpoint.

"If he did maybe pull a hamstring or a calf muscle in an attempt to strive for full fitness, then he might miss the games next month. At least now he has got that chance to get to get ready.

"He is not in the squad for Sunday."

McClean's absence will be a blow with O'Neill having used him extensively in his previous games in charge, but the 62-year-old was at least able to take positives from a win over admittedly modest opposition.

After a tepid start, Kevin Doyle headed the Republic into a 20th-minute lead and Alex Pearce added a late second.

O'Neill said: "I thought beforehand that we would need the game, and I think it was proved.

"We had a chance to look at Darron Gibson and Robbie Brady, (who) I hadn't seen play for us, anyway - I obviously haven't seen much of Darron Gibson at all in the last couple of years, so I thought the game was needed.

"It's nice to win - there's plenty of improvement [needed], obviously, with Tbilisi on Sunday, but it was just nice to win the game and for things to work out."