Football/Soccer

More Covid drama in the Irish camp ahead of Finland trip

Aaron Connolly is back in the Republic of Ireland fold

MORE Covid19 drama unfolded in the Republic of Ireland squad late last night after a squad member tested positive for Covid19 and is now self-isolating and out of tomorrow's Nations League game against Finland. 

The unnamed player initially tested positive before a further Covid test delivered a 'false' positive result. However, after a third test, it came back positive again and the player will now not travel. 

In their latest statement released last night, the FAI confirmed the worst news for manager Stephen Kenny.
 
"The player who initially testd positive for COVID-19 on Sunday night is now out of the Ireland squad for the UEFA Nations League game in Finland, after the second of two tests on Monday produced a positive result.
 
The statement continued: "The player – who cannot be named – had received a positive result from a UEFA test on Sunday followed by a negative result from a second test on Monday morning.
 
"A third test has now come back positive and the player will now self-isolate for the next 10 days as per HSE guidelines. No members of the Irish squad or the backroom team have been identified as close contacts of the player.  
 
"Ireland manager Stephen Kenny will not call up any replacements for the Finland fixture in light of this news. The HSE and UEFA will be informed of the latest positive result and the player’s withdrawal from the Irish squad."

Meanwhile, Aaron Connolly tweeted a smiley face and an Irish tricolour emoji to accompany his return to the Republic of Ireland squad yesterday, just six days after being ruled out of the side’s ill-fated Euro 2020 play-off semi-final in Slovakia under coronavirus protocols.

The depleted Irish travel to the Finish capital today for tomorrow night's Nations League clash against Finland, with 20-year-old Connolly giving the camp a big lift along with Adam Idah, both of whom were forced to miss the penalty shoot-out loss to Slovakia last Thursday after an FAI official on the plane tested positive for Covid19.

The two players were forced to self-isolate because of their proximity to the official (they were 10 centimetres inside the two-metre social distance zone) who, as it transpired, received a false positive.

Prior to the showdown with Slovakia Connolly was regarded, alongside David McGoldrick, as a potential match-winner for Ireland – until he was pulled out of the squad and Stephen Kenny’s plans were thrown into chaos.

Both Connolly and Idah missed Sunday’s drab scoreless draw with Wales in the Nations League – but are recalled for the Finland tie.

However, Kenny is still without five players due to Covid-related issues - John Egan, Callum Robinson, Callum O'Dowda, Alan Browne and Derrick Williams – all of whom had to sit out the Welsh game.

Yesterday, the FAI said: "Republic of Ireland striker Aaron Connolly has rejoined the squad ahead of the UEFA Nations League match against Finland on Wednesday.

"Connolly has been given permission to rejoin the squad by the HSE (Health Service Executive) and travelled back to Dublin this morning."

James McClean also misses out after his late red card against Wales and joins Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, David McGoldrick, Harry Arter and Darragh Lenihan on the absentee list.

However, Kevin Long has been retained in Kenny’s squad despite having to come off after 25 minutes in the Wales due to a head injury.

Matt Doherty gives the manager an option at centre back tomorrow night should he need him after the Spurs man slotted in alongside Shane Duffy and performed well.

Kenny has called up West Brom defender Dara O'Shea and Derby's Jason Knight, who were on U21 duty in Pisa ahead of Thursday's European Championship qualifier against Italy, and QPR's Ryan Manning and Portsmouth's Ronan Curtis.

Ireland have taken just two of the first nine Nations League points on offer - they drew 1-1 in Bulgaria before the stalemate against Ryan Giggs' men either side of a 1-0 home defeat by Finland - and are yet to win in four attempts under their new manager.

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (West Ham United), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Mark Travers (Bournemouth).

Defenders: Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Shane Duffy (Celtic, on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion), Kevin Long (Burnley), Cyrus Christie (Nottingham Forest, on loan from Fulham), Dara O'Shea (West Bromwich Albion).

Midfielders: Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), James McCarthy (Crystal Palace), Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United), Jayson Molumby (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers), Robbie Brady (Burnley), Josh Cullen (Anderlecht), Jason Knight (Derby County), Ryan Manning (Queens Park Rangers).

Forwards: Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe Wanderers), Sean Maguire (Preston North End), Shane Long (Southampton), Adam Idah (Norwich City), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth).

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Football/Soccer