Luckless Aaron Connolly has had to pull out of the Republic of Ireland’s clashes with England, Wales and Bulgaria through injury.
The 20-year-old Brighton striker, who had to miss last month’s crucial Euro 2020 play-off semi-final in Slovakia as a close contact of a member of staff who had tested positive for coronavirus, was hurt in training on Tuesday and has been replaced in the squad by Preston’s Sean Maguire.
Connolly’s misfortune represents the latest blow to manager Stephen Kenny, who lost forward Callum Robinson on the same day following a positive Covid-19 test.
“Republic of Ireland striker Aaron Connolly has been ruled out of the England, Wales and Bulgaria fixtures through injury,” said a Football Association of Ireland statement.
“The Brighton and Hove Albion forward will miss the three matches through an injury sustained in training yesterday and Preston North End striker Sean Maguire has been called up as a replacement.”
Connolly had been selected to start in Bratislava when it emerged that he and fellow striker Adam Idah, who was due to be among the substitutes, had been sitting too close to a member of staff who had to self-isolate following the positive result.
It later emerged that the pair, who had moved seats on the plane, could have been involved after all when it was revealed that the test had yielded a false positive.
However, four more players were withdrawn from the squad on its return to Dublin following a positive test in the camp, and the issue raised its ugly head once again this week when the FAI confirmed that a member of the current party, confirmed on Wednesday as Robinson, had suffered the same fate.
The statement continued: “Striker Callum Robinson has now been confirmed as the Covid-19 positive case in the Ireland camp and will also miss the three matches.
“Swansea City’s Ryan Manning has been called up and will link up with the squad ahead of the Wales match on Sunday.”
Ireland face England in a friendly at Wembley on Thursday evening before Nations League fixtures against Wales in Cardiff and Bulgaria in Dublin.