Caldwell’s injury adds to Pauw’s defensive concerns ahead of the Sweden test

Ireland have a defensive headache after Diane Caldwell joined Savannah McCarthy on the sidelines for next month’s tough World Cup qualifying trip to Sweden after boss Vera Pauw confirmed her squad in Dublin this morning.

A hamstring injury means the latest Manchester United recruit will be ruled out of Ireland’s attempt to somehow recoup their narrow 1-0 defeat by the Olympic silver medalist last September.

Sweden are hoping for their World Cup spot against Ireland, whose intention will be to limit any possible damage to their goal difference as they try to secure a place in the play-offs ahead of rivals Finland.

But their defense plans are uncertain after Galway resident McCarthy suffered a devastating long-term knee injury last week.

“It’s heartbreaking for her,” Pauw said this morning. “We will do everything we can to help her.

“She’s a different defender than the other two in the center and that was important for us. It was a mobile option and we have to solve it for this game.

“Unfortunately, Diane has a hamstring injury. However, Megan Campbell is coming back and Harriet Scott is also available.

“Megan was overloaded on the way to the Pinata Cup and her knee was swelling, so we decided not to overload her for the sake of her career.”

In a sign of the FAI’s intensive recruitment policy, there is a first official call-up for midfielder Lily Agg, who qualified through her Cork-born grandmother.

The 28-year-old, who hails from Brighton but plays for the London City Lionesses, previously trained with the squad in April 2021.

Pauw also includes 16-year-old Shels starlet Abbie Larkin, who made her senior debut at the Pinatar Cup in February and most recently featured in Ireland’s under-17 side’s failed EURO bid.

“Every game is crucial this season,” said Pauw, whose side lost to the Swedes by an own goal last September.

“We’re about to step up. Sweden is not in second place for nothing, they are very solid and dangerous when attacking.

“It makes it difficult to have a plan, but we have a plan.

“The big chance we have is in the first game when their players came out from the Olympics and maybe they were a bit tired. But now their whole squad is fit and they are fresher.

Aside from Caldwell (thigh) and McCarthy (knee), Niamh Farrelly (ankle), Emily Whelan (square) and Aoife Colvill (knee) are also injured while Saoirse Noonan continues her recovery from a knee injury.

Ireland meets Sweden in Gothenburg on Tuesday 12 April.

They then face a crucial three-game clash with a trip to Georgia in June ahead of September’s games against Finland in Tallaght and Slovakia in Bratislava.

Sweden play Georgia on April 8 and could secure their World Cup spot by beating Ireland with a record crowd of 23,000 expected at the Ullevi Stadium.

“Two important games await us here in April,” said coach Peter Gerhardsson as he also unveiled his squad, which includes the return of Sweden star player Caroline Seger, who missed the Dublin date.

“First we will approach the away game against Georgia with full focus on bringing a good result home to Gothenburg and the game against Ireland in Gamla Ullevi.

“Then we’ll have everything in our own hands and can secure a spot for the 2023 World Cup in front of our home fans.”

There are some changes in the squad compared to the one that recently won the Algarve Cup with Magdalena Eriksson, Linda Sembrant, Filippa Curmark and Rebecka Blomqvist.

Everton striker Anna Anvegard is out with a concussion but her team-mates Nathalie Bjorn and Hanna Bennison have been selected.

Chelsea trio Zećira Mušović, Magda Eriksson and Jonna Andersson are also there.

Emma Kullberg (Brighton & Hove Albion), Filippa Angeldahl (Manchester City) and Stina Blackstenius (Arsenal) are also part of Gerhardsson’s squad.

Republic of Ireland women’s national team squad

Goalkeeper: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion), Eve Badana (DLR Waves)

Defender: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Claire Walsh (Glasgow City), Chloe Mustaki (Shelbourne), Megan Campbell (Liverpool), Aine O’Gorman (Peamount United)

Midfield player: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Ciara Grant (Rangers), Jess Ziu (Shelbourne) , Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), Isibeal Atkinson (Celtic)

Forward: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Kyra Carusa (HB Hoge), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Leanne Kiernan (Liverpool), Ellen Molloy (Wexford Youths), Abbie Larkin (Shelbourne)


Sweden v Republic of Ireland, Tuesday 12 April (Gamla Ullevi, Gothenburg). KO 17:30 (18:30 local time), Live on RTÉ2/RTÉ Player Caldwell’s injury adds to Pauw’s defensive concerns ahead of the Sweden test

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