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Stoke’s Walters to miss Ireland match vs. Belgium through injury

Republic of Ireland v Bosnia and Herzegovina - UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier: Play-Off Second Leg

DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Scorer of his team’s two goals, Jon Walters of the Republic of Ireland walks off the pitch following his team’s 2-0 victory and qualification during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

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The Republic of Ireland will be without one of their veteran leaders on Saturday as Jon Walters has been sidelined with an achilles injury.

The Stoke City forward was forced off in the second half of Ireland’s opening match against Sweden, and will now miss Saturday’s clash against Belgium.

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Walters has not practiced since picking up the injury, although manager Martin O’Neill said he expects the 32-year-old to be fit for the final group stage match against Italy.

West Brom’s James McClean seems to be the likely replacement for Walters in the starting XI, although the Irish could choose to put in a more defensive player to help combat a Belgian team expected to see a majority of possession.

The Republic of Ireland currently sit second in Group E, and with all the pressure on Belgium this weekend, a surprise result could see the Irish in a good position to advance.