Republic of Ireland Under-21 striker Colm Whelan will miss the upcoming crucial European Championship qualifiers and the rest of the season after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury which is also set to hamper a move to the UK.

Whelan has been a regular in Jim Crawford's squad and scored in the win over Luxembourg last September.

Having been the top scorer in the First Division with UCD last year, Whelan was just beginning to acclimatise fully to the Premier Division, bagging two goals against Dundalk and another strike against Sligo Rovers.

However, he was stretchered off the pitch in 61st minute of College's 1-0 win over Finn Harps in Ballybofey.

Fears over a serious knee injury have materialised with a scan showing ligament damage.

Shamrock Rovers and a host of clubs in the UK have been tracking the Kilkenny man as he is due to finish his studies in the coming weeks.

As such, he was set for a transfer in the summer window.

Now he faces the rest of the calendar year on the sidelines.

His 27 goals last season were enough to merit international recognition and he was likely to be involved in the home qualifiers with Bosnia, Montenegro and Italy.

Ireland are looking to qualify for the tournament in 2023.

It’s also a blow for UCD in their battle to avoid relegation with Whelan’s services, even in the short-term, vital.

They face Shamrock Rovers on Thursday night with the victory of Harps last week keeping hopes alive of getting off the bottom of the table.

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