Republic of Ireland curse strikes PNE ace Greg Cunningham again

Preston boss Alex Neil says his heart went out to left-back Greg Cunningham after injury again forced him to pull out of the Republic of Ireland squad.

Cunningham had been named in a 30-man squad for the Emerald army’s friendly against Turkey on Thursday.

But a hamstring strain put paid to him making the trip, Cunningham staying behind at Springfields for treatment.

He came off at half-time in the Fulham game and missed the 2-0 win over Sunderland at the weekend.

Neil said: “Greg is not going to make the trip with Ireland unfortunately.

“That is the last three trips he has been called up for and got injured prior to them.

PNE left-back Greg Cuningham has pulled out of the Republic of Ireland because of injury

PNE left-back Greg Cuningham has pulled out of the Republic of Ireland because of injury

“We are not talking niggles, we are talking proper injuries.

“It is really disappointing and frustrating for Greg, he deserves to get recognition and hopefully that will come.”

Last August, Cunningham was named in a provisional squad for Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Serbia.

But the following week he suffered a serious injury to his hamstring which saw it come away from the tendon.

The surgery and recovery process kept him sidelined until December – it was the same injury which striker Sean Maguire has just come back from.

His current hamstring strain is not thought to be a long-term problem but he faces a race to get back for the Good Friday visit to Sheffield Wednesday.

Cunningham’s North End team-mates Sean Maguire, Daryl Horgan and Alan Browne joined up with the Ireland squad on Sunday.

The Irish are having a three-day training camp in Antalya before facing Turkey.

That is their only game in the international break and the PNE trio will be back at the start of next week to be involved in the build-up to the Easter matches.

Cunningham’s left-back slot against Sunderland went to Josh Earl.

Neil was pleased with the teenager’s overall show after a slightly tentative start.

“I didn’t think that Josh was aggressive enough in the first half and I had a talk with him about that,” said Neil.

“Josh allowed the striker to get across him too easily, he was a bit tentative.

“He improved greatly in the second half – there was a lot more belief to his play.

“I thought he was much more aggressive, knowing when to play a pass before the ball came to him. That was a lot better from him.”