Thursday, March 26, 2009

Duff ruled out of World Cup qualifiers

Damien Duff has been ruled out of Ireland's World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Italy with a hamstring injury.

Thursday evening's shock news was a big blow to Ireland boss Giovanni Trapatonni before the important group 8 games against Bulgaria and Italy.

There had been no suggestion of any problem with Duff's fitness and Aiden McGeady remains a fitness doubt because of a foot injury, but goalkeeper Shay Given will be fit.

Reading winger Stephen Hunt looks certain to replace Duff in the starting line-up.

McGeady took only a limited part in training on Thursday and faces a fitness test on Friday.

Wolves midfield Andy Keogh is in line to come into the team if McGeady is ruled out.

Duff picked up the injured in training on Wednesday and a scan on Thursday morning revealed that he is likely to be out for two weeks.

After a long injury-affected spell, Duff has returned to impressive form for in recent games.

The Newcastle winger's withdrawal was confirmed by Republic assistant Liam Brady on Thursday evening.

Duff returned to Newcastle after getting the results of the scan.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni is already minus injured defender Steve Finnan who misses out because of a hamstring injury.

Ireland take on Group Eight leaders Italy in Bari four days after the Bulgaria game.

The Italians are ahead of Trapattoni's team on goal difference with both teams locked on 10 points after four games.

The Football Association of Ireland are no longer having to consider making new travel arrangements for the Republic squad's trip to Bari.

Airports in Ireland had been expected to be affected by a nationwide strike on Monday - the day that the squad are scheduled to travel to Italy.

However, the strike threat has now been averted.

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