World Cup dream is over for Canaries star Hoolahan but Watkins makes his debut for Wales
- Credit: PA
Dreams of playing at the World Cup have come to an end for Norwich City star Wes Hoolahan.
The veteran playmaker could not prevent the Republic of Ireland’s painful 5-1 drubbing from Denmark in their qualifying play-off in Dublin – despite being thrown into action at half-time.
Brighton defender Shane Duffy headed Martin O’Neill’s team in front in just the sixth minute at the Aviva Stadium but the Danes hit back with two goals in three minutes to lead at the break.
Hoolahan and Aiden McGeady were introduced at half-time but that roll of the dice did not work out as Tottenham star Christian Eriksen scored twice in 11 minutes to complete his hat-trick, before Nicklas Bendtner sealed the triumph with a late penalty to break Irish hearts.
The Canaries icon won his 42nd cap but will be 36 in May and has started just two of the Republic’s last seven competitive matches, so may well have played his last game at international level, having scored three goals for his country.
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The tricky attacker is in his 10th and potentially final season with Norwich as well, as his contract is due to expire next summer. He has started 10 of his 16 appearances during the current campaign, setting up two goals and scoring one.
That means Hoolahan’s legendary status is already secured, with 333 appearances and 53 goals ranking him 21st in both the club’s all-time appearances and goal-scoring lists.
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Elsewhere, City keeper Angus Gunn was an unused substitute for England’s 0-0 draw in a friendly with Brazil at Wembley.
It was the Norfolk-born youngster’s first match with the senior squad following his promotion from the under-21s due to an injury to Jack Butland but Joe Hart played the full game against a full-strength Brazilian side, as the 21-year-old watched form the sidelines.
It was a notable evening for Canaries forward Marley Watkins though, who made his debut for Wales.
The former Swansea City trainee came on in the 70th minute of a 1-1 friendly draw with Panama – who have qualified for the World Cup – and fired just over with a late shot in Cardiff.
Watkins will now hope to face his old club Barnsley at Carrow Road when Championship action returns on Saturday.