Kennedy forced to withdraw


Wolves winger Mark Kennedy has been forced to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland squad for Saturday's World Cup play-off first leg against Iran at Lansdowne Road because of a hamstring injury.

Kennedy's withdrawal adds to the worries of Republic boss Mick McCarthy, who has already seen another wide man, Blackburn's Damien Duff, ruled out with a similar injury.

Now McCarthy must keep his fingers crossed that both Sunderland's Kevin Kilbane and Millwall's Steven Reid will recover in time to link up with the rest of the squad in Dublin on Tuesday.

The absence of Kennedy and Duff means McCarthy may have problems on the left side of midfield.

Kilbane always looked to be a certain starter against the Iranians but he missed out on Sunderland's 1-0 defeat by Leicester at Filbert Street on Saturday because of a recurring ankle problem.

Reid, a potential replacement after winning his first cap in the draw with Croatia in Dublin in August, was absent from Millwall's 3-2 victory over Coventry at the New Den yesterday because of a hamstring problem.

"As with the Roy Keane situation and his ongoing knee problem, we will just have to be patient and wait and see when the squad assembles on Tuesday. Time is on our side," said McCarthy.

Kennedy could yet come into the reckoning for the second leg in Tehran a week on Thursday, but no decision will be made for at least 72 hours.