Belfast Telegraph

Duffy is given green light to support Georgia mission

Raring to go: Shane Duffy (far left), with Scott Hogan, says he’s ready to take on Georgia
Raring to go: Shane Duffy (far left), with Scott Hogan, says he’s ready to take on Georgia

By Daniel McDonnell

Shane Duffy sent a text message to Mick McCarthy to tell him that he was fit to travel to Tbilisi after coming through a training session at Brighton.

The Londonderry man will be on today's flight to Georgia, a swift recovery for the 27-year-old, who feared a six to eight-week lay-off due to the calf problem he sustained against Aston Villa a fortnight ago.

But David McGoldrick will not be on board as he is still trying to shake off a combination of a hamstring and groin issue. His realistic target now is a role off the bench in Switzerland next Tuesday.

Duffy is now in contention for Georgia, although McCarthy must still weigh up whether it's too much of a risk to involve the centre-half in both matches.

"He's trained with the (Brighton) lads so he must have done some football work," said McCarthy. "All along he's been pretty confident he'd be okay. It wasn't as bad as they thought."

The Republic boss was also optimistic because Duffy played through the pain barrier to score against Denmark in the summer.

"I'd been more optimistic about him because when he said he was going to be okay, I'd seen it happen before with his groin (in Copenhagen)," he said.

"The doctor and physio said he's pretty resilient. If he says he'll be okay, he'll be okay and true to his word he is."

McGoldrick was honest about his feelings when he spoke to McCarthy.

"He was still feeling it, the groin,and I said to him Saturday is going to be far too soon," the Irish boss added. "If he trains over the weekend, he might still might be an option as a sub in Switzerland."

Meanwhile, Matt Doherty is ready to step into the breach.

The 27-year-old Wolves defender has found himself in direct competition with captain Seamus Coleman for a starting place on the right since catapulting himself into contention with his club form in the Premier League. However, he is the leading candidate to replace the suspended Enda Stevens at left-back in Tbilisi on Saturday evening, and will have no qualms about doing so.

Asked if he would be happy to play there, Doherty said: "Yes, of course. I'm totally comfortable playing in that position. I played two seasons there for Wolves -one and a half seasons, maybe, it was - so it would be nothing new to me. If that is the case, then yes, I'll enjoy it and grab the opportunity with both hands."

• Tammy Abraham and Trent Alexander-Arnold say England's players are prepared to defy Uefa's racism protocols and walk off the pitch if someone is targeted.

Gareth Southgate's side face away Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic tomorrow and Bulgaria on Monday, with the second game - played at a partially closed Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia as a sanction for racism - set to come under particular scrutiny.

Chelsea forward Abraham said: "We're a whole team. If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us."

Liverpool full-back Alexander-Arnold said: "We have an obligation to follow the protocols. If it does get to the extreme, maybe different action might be taken."

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