Steve McClaren may try to block Rob Elliot from the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 play-off despite the Newcastle goalkeeper’s match-winning heroics against Bournemouth.
Newcastle boss McClaren vowed to wrap Elliot in “cotton wool” as the 29-year-old continues to battle thigh trouble after playing through the pain in the 1-0 Premier League victory at Dean Court.
Ireland face Bosnia and Herzegovina in the two-leg Euro 2016 play-off in the next fortnight, but McClaren wants Elliot to focus on full fitness rather than international duty.
Manager Martin O’Neill has David Forde, Kieren Westwood and Darren Randolph as his other goalkeeping options for Ireland’s Bosnia double-header.
“You’ll see him walking around with cotton wool wrapped around him for the next two weeks,” said McClaren, still missing injured goalkeepers Tim Krul and Karl Darlow.
“So that’s what we’ll have to do.
“Rob’s been heroic to get us through the last two games in what two weeks ago was a big crisis.
“I said at half-time character will win us this game, and character did. Tremendous.”
Elliot pulled off a string of fine saves as McClaren’s men sneaked out of Bournemouth with a hugely fortunate 1-0 win.
Ayoze Perez’s winning strike was Newcastle’s only shot on target, with Elliot excelling despite his continued injury woes.
Newcastle are still missing injured duo Krul and Darlow, with boss McClaren keen to let Elliot chase full fitness not glory with Ireland in the next two weeks.
Ireland will travel to Bosnia for the first leg on Friday, November 13, before hosting the return clash at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium three days later.
The 18-year-old academy goalkeeper Brendan Pearson travelled with Newcastle and even warmed up at Bournemouth, just in case Elliot exacerbated his injury in pre-match preparations.
McClaren stressed Elliot’s continued importance to Newcastle as his other senior goalkeepers continue to battle their own injury issues.
“People talk about goalkeepers getting you points, and if you’re a top goalkeeper you get 15 to 20 points from performances like that,” said McClaren.
“Missing Tim Krul, we talked about that, and Robbie’s got to step in and do it.
“Today he got us three points without a shadow of a doubt.
“We were debating what to do but he was so positive from Monday that we gave him every chance.
“Sometimes you think ‘wow, how did we win that’.
“We got it through character, endeavour, organisation, perseverance.
“Once after an hour we were never going to score the second goal and were never going to keep the ball long enough we just more or less shored up and defended for our lives.
“And when we did that, we got through it and our goalkeeper was outstanding.
“And during the season you’ll have three or four of them, and today we got the one. We’ll take it.
“Where we’ve lost other games, say at Sunderland, where we should have won, we’ll take the three points today.”
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