Jonathan Walters set to undergo knee surgery, will be a doubt for Wales clash
Stoke City boss Mark Hughes confirmed the news on Friday afternoon18:38 Friday 13 January 2017, 18:38 13 Jan 2017
Ireland may be in pole position atop their World Cup qualifying group, but Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane will need to manage their resources carefully if they are to progress as top seeds.
The news then that Jonathan Walters will undergo knee surgery and therefore be a doubt for their upcoming World Cup qualifier with Wales this March was a blow to the Irish coaching staff.
Walters played an integral part in Ireland's campaign to make it to the European Championships last year, but missed out on the majority of the tournament with an Achilles injury.
Stoke City boss Mark Hughes made the announcement today ahead of his side's trip to Sunderland this weekend.
"We are missing Jonny Walters unfortunately, who is suffering a problem with his knee," Hughes told the Stoke Sentinel.
"As a consequence of that he is going to be missing for a little bit, so that leaves us short up front to be perfectly honest."
Jonathan Walters celebrates Ireland's historic win away to Austria during their World Cup qualifying campaign, a result which helped them end the year top of the pile. Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Walters picked up the injury during his side's 4-1 defeat to Liverpool and now looks set to be sidelined for an undetermined amount of time.
Ireland welcome Chris Coleman's side to the Aviva Stadium on March 24, with Wales looking to close the gap on second placed Serbia. The Euro 2016 semi-finalists made a rocky start to their campaign, dropping points at home to Georgia and drawing against both Austria and the Serbs.
Walters was named Ireland's Player of the Year in 2015 and scored a number of crucial goals to guarantee their progress to the showpiece in France last summer.
Ireland's current campaign to claim a spot at the World Cup in Russia next year has seen leaders such as Seamus Coleman, James McClean and Jeff Hendrick emerge within the squad.
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