The Katie McCabe prognosis is in: x-ray clear, scan clear and despite heavy bruising on the ankle bone the Ireland skipper is set to travel to America next week ahead of two matches against the world champions in three days.
Plenty of chopping and changing by Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw, but McCabe is included in the 27-woman squad despite hobbling out of Arsenal’s Champions League defeat of Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
“Can I start with the positive news that everyone wants to know?” asked Pauw. “We are waiting on the final say of the doctor but her x-ray is clear and her scan is clear.”
The Ireland captain remains in a race against time to face the USA in Austin, Texas on April 8th and three days later in St Louis, Missouri, but Pauw confirmed that “it is not a long term injury” and there is no fear of the 27-year-old missing the World Cup in July.
“So, it looks like a very bad bruise on the bone and now the assessment is that if that bruise can heal in time she can play, but that is up to the doctor [Siobhan Forman].
“The biggest relief is of course that it is not a long term injury, it is just a matter of whether she can play against the USA or not, but no fear for the World Cup.”
“When an injury like that occurs I step back, I do not interfere at all. We have a Plan A and a Plan B we discuss that among the technical staff. Then we wait for news. It is up to the doctors at that point.”
Pauw retains hope that McCabe can be part of Denise O’Sullivan’s 100th cap next Saturday.
“Pretty high [that she will travel], because if there is no damage it is a matter of ‘can we control the pain?’ but that is up to the doctors. The Arsenal doctor is assessing it at this moment.
“We all know where we stand – we are playing the world champions, which is massive, but we need stability on the group. I would never bring a player, even Katie, if she has no chance of playing.
“If a player of Katie’s calibre has a chance to play she also brings stability to the group and that is very necessary when you play a game like this.”
“Of course I was very worried. I thought ‘let it not interfere with her World Cup’ because she deserves it so much and Ireland deserves to have her at the World Cup.”
Megan Campbell is also ruled out this month for personal reasons, but the Liverpool defender is expected to return for the friendly against Zambia in Tallaght on June 22nd.
Alannah McEvoy and Roma McLaughlin are recalled after the February camp in Marbella produced a lacklustre 0-0 draw with China.
McEvoy’s late grandfather Andy was one of only two Republic of Ireland players, along with John Aldridge, to have finished as top scorer in the English top flight. He finished joint top scorer with Jimmy Greaves in the 1964-65 season when he scored 29 goals for Blackburn Rovers.
Pauw has excluded four players, including squad regulars Lucy Quinn and Isibeal Atkinson.
“Lucy is [out] on the basis that another player is better than her. We are trying to find more control, Roma was not in for a while because she didn’t play, only trained, and not at a high level. She’s now four months at the highest level [in Danish club football] and you can see that immediately.”
Three home grown defenders have been called up, with Peamount United’s Tara O’Hanlon joined by Glasgow Celtic’s Claire O’Riordan and West Ham-bound Jessie Stapleton, passing out Deborah-Anne De la Harpe after the Australian born wing back was parachuted in for a first cap against China.
“Deborah was brought in to see her in our environment and to give her the chance to play and see where she is. She’s on the edge. I’ve been very honest to her. To everybody, I’m always honest.
“And it is very important: we needed a left-footer extra, because of Katie and Megan. Those choices can be very complicated with all different aspects coming in.”
Fourth choice goalkeeper Naoisha McAloon has been replaced by the London-born goalkeeper Sophie Whitehouse, who qualifies via her Dublin-born mother.
Liverpool captain Niamh Fahey, Chloe Mustaki, and Leanne Kiernan are aiming to be fit for the June window. Ellen Molloy and Jess Ziu, who both suffered serious knee ligament tears, have been ruled out for the season, although Molloy retains some hope.
“I don’t want to put a date on it — I don’t want to get my hopes up,” said the teenager this week. “I don’t want to rush it either. I’m hoping to be back by June or July in time for the second half of the season.
“I haven’t given up on myself. I’m going to do everything I can but every girl in the country is going to do everything they can so we’ll wait and see.”
Ireland WNT Squad
Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion), Sophie Whitehouse (Lewes).
Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Jessie Stapleton (Shelbourne), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Aoife Mannion (Manchester United), Diane Caldwell (Reading), Claire O’Riordan (Celtic), Hayley Nolan (London City Lionesses), Tara O’Hanlon (Peamount United), Áine O’Gorman (Shamrock Rovers).
Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Ciara Grant (Hearts), Roma McLaughlin (Fortuna Hjorring).
Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Abbie Larkin (Shamrock Rovers), Amber Barrett (Potsdam Turbine), Kyra Carusa (London City Lionesses), Marissa Sheva (Washington Spirit), Alannah McEvoy (Shamrock Rovers).
USA v Republic of Ireland Saturday, April 8 KO 19:30 (Irish Time) / 13:30 (CT), 14:30 (ET) Q2 Stadium, Austin, Texas LIVE on RTÉ2 International Friendly
USA v Republic of Ireland Tuesday, April 11 KO 00:30 (Irish Time) / 18:30 (CT), 19:30 (ET) CITYPARK, St Louis, Missouri LIVE on RTÉ2