Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has recalled Kevin Doyle to the Irish side in a bid to keep his European Championship dream alive.
Trap had promoted new West Brom striker Shane Long to the starting team for Friday night’s crunch Euro qualifier against Slovakia at Doyle’s expense but Long has picked up an injury .Wolves star Doyle was named on the bench for the must win game in Dublin but now he and his club-mate Stephen Ward start a competitive game for the first time due to an injury to Kevin Kilbane.
Trapattoni had said his decision to play Long upfront with captain Robbie Keane was based on current club form after the 24-year-old scored against Manchester United and Chelsea in West Brom’s opening Premier League games.
\“It’s his club form, he scores goals for his club. He has more confidence and against the typical Slovakia defender he can do the same,” said Trapattoni.
However, Long suffered a muscle strain but may be ready for the game against Russia on Monday.
Long has scored six goals in his 22 appearances for Ireland and was man of the match when Ireland drew in Slovakia last October.
Kilbane misses a competitive match for the first time after a record 66 consecutive appearances and has returned to Derby County for treatment on a back injury.
“Stephen Ward played the last game against Croatia, I think he showed us his quality and confidence. I think he’ll be okay,” said Trapattoni.
“I had a doubt about whether Kevin would start. Slovakia have three or four players who are very fast. We have to think about what can happen.
“I can’t change the defender when we get into difficulties. The coach has to think about what can happen over 90 minutes and over 30 minutes.”
Aiden McGeady also starts as he gets the nod over Stephen Hunt on the Irish wing.
Ireland v Slovakia: Given; O’Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Ward; Duff, Whelan, Andrews, McGeady; Long, Keane.