Sunderland skipper John O’Shea will miss the first leg of the Republic of Ireland’s crucial Euro 2016 play-off next month.
O’Shea saw red in last night’s 2-1 defeat in Poland in their final Group D qualifier, as the Poles joined section winners Germany in securing automatic qualification for next summer’s finals in France.
The Republic have the consolation of a play-off place as third-place finishers in the group, with the winners of a two-legged tie next month winning through to the 24-team finals.
For the first game, boss Martin O’Neill will have to do without the experienced O’Shea, and striker Jon Walters, because of suspension.
O’Shea was booked for a foul on Polish star Robert Lewandowski in the 18th minute and finally fell off the tightrope in stoppage time at the end of the match, felling the Bayern Munich star to ensure a sending-off.
Poland won with goals from Grzegorz Krychowiak and Lewandowski either side of a Shane Long penalty.
Central defender Richard Keogh came close to an equaliser nine minutes from time when he got his head to Aiden McGeady’s cross, but Poland goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski claimed the ball at the second attempt.
Republic boss Martin O’Neill said of the chance: “I’ve seen it back and and I’m naturally disappointed because I thought Richard probably would have scored and it is disappointing.
“We knew that at some stage or another, particularly in the last 15 minutes, that we would get an opportunity to score a goal.
“That was it. We didn’t take it. It’s gone but we live to fight another day.”
With the defeat and a look towards the play-offs, O’Neill added: “It was always going to be a difficult game for us and here we maybe didn’t have the same energy as we did against Germany and, with the short turnaround away from home, against Poland it was going to be difficult.
“Having said that we probably made life difficult for ourselves at times.
“I’m saying all of this, we’re still in the....we have a game, we’ve got two games coming up and we can still make it.
“(We’re) Just disappointed because the win against Germany gave us a run at it this evening and we weren’t quite able to do it despite putting an awful lot of pressure on Poland, particularly in the second half, it wasn’t to be.”
Looking ahead to the play-offs (the draw will take place next Sunday), former Sunderland boss O’Neill said: “Whoever we play, we will have as good a chance as them.
“Before we played Germany, if you had offered me third I would have taken it. But that win gave us the confidence to come and play here.
“We had to go for it in the second half, I actually thought we might have got a second goal, and that would have taken us through. Right until the end we were there but we were perhaps lacking that cohesiveness.
“Despite putting a lot of pressure on them it wasn’t to be. But we are still in there, we can still make it. We didn’t make it but we are still fighting strongly.”
Ireland reached Euro 2012 via the play-offs, beating Estonia 5-1 on aggregate.