Friday, March 25, 2011

Ireland team for Macedonia qualifier

Keiren Westwood, Darren O'Dea and Kevin Foley will all make competitive debuts for Ireland in Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia.

Coventry keeper Westwood was always going to come in for the injured Shay Given to win his sixth senior cap, while Wolves defender Foley takes over from John O'Shea at right-back.

However, O'Dea, currently on loan at Ipswich from Celtic, has been drafted in as a late replacement for central defender Sean St Ledger, who has finally had to admit defeat in his efforts to shake off a knee injury picked up in a training ground collision with Ciaran Clark on Tuesday.

Kevin Kilbane will make his 65th successive competitive start in a back four which will also include the fit again Richard Dunne, while Manchester United's Darron Gibson will partner Glenn Whelan in central midfield with Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady providing the width.

Robbie Keane, captaining his country for a record-equalling 40th time, will start alongside Kevin Doyle in attack after finally shaking off the calf injury which has sidelined him for much of the last six weeks.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has confirmed that Wigan midfielder James McCarthy will be involved at some point, although Jon Walters is not now due to join up with the squad until after the game following the birth of his third child.

Ireland XI: Westwood, Foley, Dunne, O'Dea, Kilbane, Duff, Gibson, Whelan, McGeady, Keane, Doyle.