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Republic of Ireland midfielder Denise O’Sullivan is in a fitness race ahead of her side’s World Cup opener after she sustained a soft tissue and bone bruise injury to her lower leg, manager Vera Pauw has said.

O’Sullivan was taken to hospital after the Republic’s friendly with Colombia on Friday was aborted after 20 minutes due to what the Football Association of Ireland later described in a statement as an “overly physical” contest.

An initial scan revealed the North Carolina Courage captain had not suffered any fractures, but Pauw would not make any predictions about whether or not O’Sullivan would be ready to start against Australia on Thursday night.

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Speaking during the Republic’s training session in Brisbane on Monday, Pauw said: “We decided to be completely open about it, I’ve asked her if that was possible and she’s OK with that.

“She’s off the boot and she’s been walking around. She’s going to do the bands now, core stability, then we start to run with her and we see where she is.

“We will only know more after today and then we need to make it step-by-step and we work towards it, and if not it’s not, and if so then everybody is happy I think.

“It’s a soft tissue and bone bruise, so it depends also on how much pain it is and how much she can bear and not getting other injuries with that, but the first thing is can she run on it? And you don’t know until you do it.”

Pauw was otherwise feeling optimistic ahead of their group opener, when Ireland will make their long-awaited World Cup debut in front of over 80,000 fans at Sydney’s Stadium Australia.

She said: “Of course we’re getting closer and closer. The last dots on the ‘i’ and then we’re ready. It’s not an ordinary game, but we have to bring it back to the tasks of the game, and at the end it’s the same pitch as what we have back home, right?

“Pitches everywhere in the world have the same dimensions, and that is what this actually is. But I’m not saying, I’m not going in the direction (of) it’s a normal game, because of course it’s not a normal game.”

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