Ciaran Clark is likely to miss the Euro 2020 finals if the Republic of Ireland qualify and they go ahead as planned after undergoing ankle surgery.
The 30-year-old central defender suffered ankle ligament damage during Newcastle’s 4-0 Premier League defeat at Arsenal on February 16 and this week had an operation to address the issue.
Asked if Clark would be fit should Ireland make it through the play-offs and the finals tournament goes ahead as planned, Magpies head coach Steve Bruce said: “If they qualify, then I think it would be unlikely if the Euros were to start on June 11. I can’t see it. Maybe, though.”
Clark started Ireland’s 3-1 friendly victory over New Zealand in November and was used as a half-time substitute in the 1-1 draw with Denmark in their final qualifier four days later, his first appearances for his country in 14 months after a good run of form for his club.
He had already been ruled out of manager Mick McCarthy’s plans for the scheduled play-off semi-final against Slovakia later this month.
European football’s 55 member associations have been called to an emergency meeting next Tuesday as UEFA considers its options amid suggestions that the tournament, which is due to get under way in Rome on June 12, could be postponed until next summer as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Ireland are scheduled to travel to Bratislava to meet Slovakia on March 26 with the winners facing either Bosnia and Herzegovina or Northern Ireland five days later with a ticket for the finals at stake.
Both the Slovakian and Bosnian football associations have formally requested the postponement of their ties because of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Slovakia could be particularly disadvantaged should their game go ahead with several members of the squad playing their club football in Italy, which is in lockdown.
They have already lost first-choice goalkeeper and Clark’s Newcastle team-mate Martin Dubravka to a knee injury which will sideline him for a least a month.