Belfast Telegraph

Austria v Republic of Ireland: Kevin Doyle set to grasp opportunity after injury nightmare

By Daniel McDonnell

Kevin Doyle is desperate to make up for lost time in Vienna after admitting he feared his Irish career was over when he suffered a horrific injury last March. Martin O'Neill's striking problems - Shane Long and Daryl Murphy are out - give Doyle a chance of featuring at some stage in the crucial World Cup qualifier with Austria.

He wondered if he would ever figure again after the deep gash he sustained in March's friendly with Switzerland prevented him from staking a claim for involvement in France.

Doyle was named in the long list ahead of the Euros but was surplus to O'Neill's requirements. However, he is now in the frame for a first competitive contribution since a sub cameo against Gibraltar in October 2014.

"When I got injured, it crossed my mind (that) I didn't want being carried off the pitch to be the last time that I would be involved," said the 33-year-old Colorado Rapids striker. "I'm at that age now where you just don't know how much longer it is going to last."

Doyle is in good form at the moment after helping Colorado to what is effectively the semi-finals of the MLS Cup and the enjoyment of competing at the top end of the table offered comfort to get over the disappointment of not being a part of the French experience.

"I missed the Euros and, to be honest, being in America helped with that because the games were on at all hours of the morning so I missed a lot of the hype. It helped me to deal with it a bit.

"They did really well and I wasn't sure if I would be involved once they came back or not, but the call came for this camp and I was happy to come in."

Callum O'Dowda will, meanwhile, head for Austria hoping a "crazy" year still has more in store for him as he makes his way on the international stage.

Last November, the 21-year-old winger was plying his trade in League Two with home-town club Oxford, but this weekend he could be playing some part in a World Cup qualifier in Vienna.

O'Dowda's last 12 months have included promotion to League One, a call-up to the senior international squad, a big-money summer move to Sky Bet Championship Bristol City and a competitive debut for his country.

He said: "It has been a bit crazy. I set out to get promotion with Oxford, achieved that, and then you've got the surprise inclusion in the Ireland squad.

"I had a previous conversation after the Italy game with the Under-21s with the manager, who said he was going to keep on watching me at Oxford and he said, 'I'll try and bring you in in the future' and then just around the corner, I was included."

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