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O’Brien in doubt for Lithuania clash

Damien NeillDamien Neill

James O’Brien is a major injury doubt for Saturday’s FIRA/AER Division 2A match against Lithuania at the Hibs Stadium, Malta coach Damien Neill told reporters yesterday.

The Waterloo winger suffered a knee injury during the 20-19 defeat to Croatia on Saturday following a reckless tackle from an opponent in Makarska.

“James O’Brien is one of three injury worries for Saturday’s match,” Neill said.

“This week he has been walking on crutches and our medical team are doing everything they can to get him fit for the match.

“Clayton Cassar also picked up an injury against Croatia and it’s difficult for him to recover while Daniel Holliday hurt his back and it’s touch and go whether he will make it for the match.”

The Malta coach has drafted three new faces into his 25-man squad, namely Nick Wright, Dragan Cerketa and Matt Galea, to provide cover in case there are more withdrawals.

Turning his sights to Saturday’s qualifier, Neill admitted that his players must make the most of the opportunities they create if they are to beat the Lithuanians.

“Our defeat to Croatia was hard to fathom as we were the better team on the day but could not convert our opportunities into points,” the Welsh coach said.

“Against Lithuania we need to be more clinical, otherwise we will pay dearly. They are a very strong side with the majority of the players plying their trade in the Russian League.

“However, if we play close to the level we showed in Croatia we will be hard to beat.”

The build-up to this month’s double-header has been quite difficult for the MRFU as the governing body struggled to pay the flights for the squad to travel to Croatia.

“Our finances are very limited at the moment and I have to thank our sponsors, Farsons, Gasan Mamo, the Malta International Airport, Mediterranean Bank and the Kunsill Malti għall-iSport as without their help, our team would not have travelled to Croatia,” Martin Galea, the MRFU president said.

“I hope more companies come forward to help our team.”

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