JONATHAN WALTERS and Glenn Whelan have been given the opportunity to begin a well-earned summer break . . . after withdrawing from the Republic of Ireland squad which has travelled to New York for a friendly this week.
Stoke City’s international pair joined team-mate Marc Wilson in missing the plane to the United States where Giovanni Trapattoni’s side will take on World and European Champions Spain in a Tuesday’s game at the Yankee Stadium.
While Wilson had already been ruled out following his part in Ireland’s 3-0 victory over the Faroe Islands on Friday evening, Walters and Whelan had been expected to feature in the party which was making the trip Stateside at the weekend.
However, a fitness check on Walters’ knee injury picked up in the World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands ruled him out at the last minute, while Trapattoni allowed Whelan to miss the visit to New York at the end of a long season.
The pair, who had a shortened summer break last year due to the Euro 2012 Finals in Poland and Ukraine, will now make the most of a four week rest before the Potters report back to begin their build-up to the 2013-14 campaign.
Walters featured in all of City’s matches last season, emerging as their leading scorer with eleven goals, while Whelan made 32 Premier League appearances.
Their final international appearance of the campaign provided a further boost to their hopes of making it through to the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil.
The victory over the Faroe Islands moved Ireland level on eleven points with second-placed Austria in Group C as they bid to reach the play-offs.
Trapattoni’s men are back in World Cup action in early September with a home fixture against Sweden in Dublin on a crucial night of qualifying action when the two sides above them, Germany and Austria, go head-to-head.