Senior players depart Ireland squad

 

Soccer:Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has allowed five senior players leave his squad ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Uruguay. Captain Robbie Keane, injured striker Kevin Doyle, Damien Duff and Richard Dunne have all been released back to their clubs.

The irrepressible Kevin Kilbane was on an early flight back to Huddersfield this morning and is expected to be on the bench for the 4pm kick-off against Notts County this afternoon.

Anthony Stokes and Cillian Sheridan have been placed on standby.

The rest of the squad trained this morning, with those who were not involved in the 2-1 win over Macedonia last night being put through their paces at Malahide.

Trapattoni gave little away in terms of how he plans to lineout against the World Cup semi-finalists, but revealed goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, who made his competitive debut last night, will start. The manager feels in the absence of veteran Shay Given that game-time at this level is crucial for the Coventry man.

The most likely candidate to captain the side tomorrow would appear to be Glenn Whelan but the Stoke City midfielder is a doubt for the game with what Trapattoni described as a “muscular injury”. The Italian said Keith Fahey and James McCarthy will definitely be involved against Uruguay and the feeling is both will start.

McCarthy was another to make his competitive debut last night, after he came on in the 87th minute for Keane. The cameo officially sealed the Scot’s future as an Ireland international, ending speculation surrounding his commitment to the cause, which, he insists, has never wavered.

"I'm delighted to make my debut. The fans were great with me. There was nothing in the stories that came about," he insisted. "Hopefully I can get many more caps. It's been different class. The boys have made me really welcome. It's just great to be amongst it and get some game-time under my belt."

All in all, it was a positive day for Ireland and Trapattoni, with a win sending them join-top of Group B. Russia’s draw against Armenia in Yerevan showed how crucial the 1-0 win there could yet be for Ireland, while Westwood, Darren O’Dea and Kevin Foley each made encouraging starts to competitive action.

The yellow card picked up by Dunne, however, rules him out of the trip to Skopje in June and made the decision to let him return to Aston Villa a little easier for the manager. With him and Kilbane out of contention, the Dubliner’s clubmate Ciaran Clarke is sure to start against Uruguay.

Doyle’s medial ligament injury, meanwhile, is “very serious” and looks set to keep him out for the rest of the season, putting his participation in the June 4th qualifier against Macedonia in doubt. Trapattoni remains hopeful.

“I think he may be out for one or two months, so it's a very serious injury. But I hope by May or June, he can come back and we can have him for the match in Macedonia."