RONAN CURTIS is ‘gutted’ to miss out on Ireland’s opening Euro 2020 qualifiers through injury but is prepared to do everything in his power to be passed fit for Portsmouth’s Checkatrade Trophy Final at Wembley on Sunday.
The former Derry City striker will this morning get stitches removed from a finger which was severed in a freak accident leaving Portsmouth’s medical team to assess whether or not he can return to training this week.
While he missed his chance to impress new Ireland boss, Mick McCarthy, during the double header against Gilbraltar and Georgia, he now faces a race against time to feature in Pompey’s Wembley clash against Sunderland.
Initially the St Johnston man, recently named FAI U21 ‘Player of the Year’, was told it would take four to six weeks before he could return to action but Curtis is hoping Portsmouth boss, Kenny Jackett will consider him for a starting berth against Sunderland.
“It’s healing up nicely now and the stitches come out on Tuesday (today),” explained Curtis. “I got a splint on it last Wednesday but I haven’t been back training.
“They told me I can’t even get a sweat on for two weeks. I can’t even jog or get on the bike or anything because I have to keep it set or the finger will come off.
“The first week, I was feeling a lot of pain and was on tablets but I’m finished with those now, and my antibiotics, and I’ve got the feeling back. I can bend it and make a fist now.
“So hopefully we can strap it up on Sunday and do something so I can get out on that pitch and play.
“I get my stitches out on Tuesday and we’ll see what happens after that. The final is Sunday so if I can go back to training during the week we’ll see how it is. So maybe. Not 100 per cent but maybe.
“I’m going to be fit and ready for it though that’s for sure,” he insisted. “I’ll speak to our medical team and we’ll work hard on it and see what we can do.”
Curtis, who made his senior Irish debut in the Nations League clash against Denmark last November, agrees it was the worse possible time to sustain his injury with the international fixtures coming up and promotion-chasing Portsmouth’s season reaching a climax.
“It was shocking timing,” he agreed. “I was disappointed not to play for my country against Gilbraltar and Georgia on Tuesday. It’s annoying but hopefully I come back stronger and get back to playing the two games in June hopefully.
“I wish I was there with the lads and showing the manager what I can do and what I bring to the table. It’s just annoying I did this at the wrong time. He (McCarthy) came to watch me a couple of times and knows what I’m about but it’s different when you can show him in person.
“So I’m really gutted but hopefully, come June, I hit the ground running and play the two games for him.
“You just have to look at the positives. They said four to six weeks but I’m trying my hardest to get back in three.
“I’m trying my best to get back for the final and once I’m back for that, I’ll be back for every other game after that.
“It’s a crucial time for us. There are only seven or eight games left in the league and then the cup final as well. If we win all our games and Barnsley lose, then we can even go up automatically so there’s lots at stake. It’s going to be a hard couple of games but it’s really exciting.”
A Wembley appearance in his first season in English football would be an incredible achievement given he was playing League of Ireland football with Derry just last summer. And it will be a family affair with the Curtis’ relishing the chance to see him on the hallowed turf of Wembley.
“It’s an amazing feeling to get to Wembley in my first year in England. It’s a honour and achievement for myself and my family. It’s a big day out for them and for the club and the fans. It’ll be a packed house.
“Sunderland’s fans base is amazing and Portsmouth’s fan base is amazing so it will be a good day out and hopefully we can win it.”