Hoolahan and Lawrence out of Ireland v Wales clash

Stopping Bale is Ireland's number one priority

The Republic of Ireland squad for the World Cup qualifying tie against Wales on Friday and friendly versus Iceland on Tuesday has been cut from 39 to 28 by manager Martin O'Neill.

The loss of the 34 year-old further restricts the options available to O'Neill who has already lost Robbie Brady to suspension as well fellow midfielder Harry Arter and central defensive partnership Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy.

And as the Republic squad trained for the first time in Abbotstown this morning, he was keeping his fingers crossed over a series of other concerns. Unfortunately it has happened at a real crucial time for us.

Ireland will be without six players for Friday night's key Group D clash with Wales in Dublin.

Republic of Ireland SquadGoalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Keiren Westwood, Colin Doyle Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce, John O'Shea, Andy Boyle, John Egan, Stephen Ward. If he doesn't train tomorrow he'll train Wednesday.

Martin O'Neill is also sweating over the fitness of Everton men James McCarthy and Seamus Coleamn who are doubts, but both remain in contention. It's bad news for us and for his club.

Worryingly, Daryl Murphy is also now a doubt for the game. He's not ruled out yet. "There are some very important players for us going for scans which doesn't sound great".

The clash against the Gareth Bale led Euro 2016 semi-finalists is a crucial one in the hunt for an automatic qualification spot for the tournament in Russian Federation in 2018, with Ireland now sitting on top of the group on 10 points, 2 clear of Serbia and 4 clear of Wales.

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