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Slovakian FA say Ireland Euro playoff could be played behind closed doors

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

14:48 9 Mar 2020

The Slovakian FA have conceded that this month's Euro 2020 playoff with the Republic of Ireland could be played behind closed doors. 

A statement on their website says they will respect the decision of health officials regarding the visit of Mick McCarthy's side to Bratislava on March 26.

The Slovakian government have placed a ban on all sporting events for a period of two weeks as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of confirmed cases in Slovakia rose on Monday from five to seven.

An Irish travelling party of 2,200 fans are set to make the trip for the playoff semi-final, with a game against either Bosnia-Herzegovina or Northern Ireland following later that week.

The FAI say they're in communication with the Slovakian FA and their local authorities regarding the game, as well as being engaged in talks with both UEFA and the Irish Embassy in Slovakia.

The game is going ahead as planned at time of writing, but talks will continue with all invested parties.

Outgoing Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini told a press conference, "It is forbidden to organize any sporting, cultural and social events for the next 14 days".

All primary schools, art schools and kindergartens in Bratislava will be closed until March 10 over coronavirus fears. Secondary schools there will remain shut until March 13.

Mick McCarthy will name his 23-man squad for the Slovakia game on Friday, and Jack Byrne is almost certain to be included.

The manager's been talking up the prospects of the Shamrock Rovers midfielder featuring in Bratislava in his weekly 'scouting report'.

Byrne scored in Rovers' 3-2 win away to Sligo Rovers on Saturday evening, a game McCarthy says was watched by senior team Head Performance Analyst Ger Dunne.

McCarthy was present for Rovers' recent win away to Dundalk, and told the FAI website, "If Jack is in the squad on Friday – and there’s every chance he will be – then he will be in on form.

"I was impressed with him in Tallaght against Dundalk and he carried that form into the game in Sligo so he is playing consistently well at present.

"Jack’s been with us for the past year now and he is developing as a player as we want him to. He has a spark about him and can do something a little bit different. That could be very handy in a tight play-off game."

McCarthy remains hopeful that James McClean will be fit for inclusion in that squad, despite not playing for his club Stoke City since last month due to a medial knee ligament injury.

Enda Stevens made his return to the Sheffield United starting XI in their 1-0 win over Norwich on Saturday, but was taken off later in the game.

"James has told me he is very close to a return to action with [Stoke] after his knee injury," McCarthy told FAI.ie, "While Enda was taken off early in the second half of Sheffield United’s 1-0 win over Norwich on Saturday with some tightness in his calf.

"They are both confident they will be fit for the play-off and that’s good to hear."

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Read more about

Coronavirus Covid-19 Enda Stevens Euro 2020 Ireland Jack Byrne James Mcclean Mick McCarthy Playoff Republic Of Ireland Shamrock Rovers Slovakia Uefa Euro 2020

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