Ireland news

Ireland duo ready to step up

Stephen Kelly and Paul McShane waiting in the wings for Ireland chance

ESPN staff

Paul McShane's ability to playa cross the back four saw him called up ahead of Kevin Foley.© PA

Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland squad appears to have plenty of hunger in reserve for Euro 2012, with back-up defenders Paul McShane and Stephen Kelly determined to impress if required to step into the breach in Poland and Ukraine.

Both McShane and Kelly have demonstrated their versatility at club level for Hull and Fulham respectively and their ability to play across the back four could prove a useful asset for Trapattoni should any of his first-choice defenders pick up injuries.

With John O'Shea and Darren O'Dea currently struggling with knocks, while Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger have also been nursing niggles, a starting berth might not be too far away for McShane or Kelly, with the latter ready to answer his manager's call, wherever he is needed.

"I feel comfortable anywhere across the back four, and that's been of benefit to me in the past. I have played in every position across there," Kelly said. "It's something the manager knows and I think he likes it about me. My strongest position is obviously right-back, being a natural right-footer, and that's where I play for my club every week. But if the manager was to ask me to play anywhere, I would do it - and gladly do it - and give 100%. I think I can fill in and do a good job there.''

McShane, 26, has also demonstrated his ability to play in various positions across the defence - a key reason he received a late call-up to the European Championship in place of Kevin Foley - and the former Manchester United defender, too, is eagerly awaiting an opportunity to play at the finals.

"I can play both positions," McShane said. "I feel comfortable there, and I can play right-back also, whatever is needed, really. If there is an injury or whatever, I am ready to step in.''

McShane revealed he had an injury scare in the build-up to Tuesday's 5-0 friendly victory over a Tuscan Select XI, but insists he is fighting fit as Ireland's build-up to Euro 2012 continues in earnest with a friendly against Hungary on Monday.

"I had a bruised foot. I went to kick a ball against Bosnia and got caught on the ground, and I was just worried it was a ligament," McShane said.

"I didn't want to come to the squad and then be sent home with an injury, so I just wanted to try to rest it as much as I could. But I had a scan and it turned out it was just superficial, just a few muscle fibres in the foot, so everything is grand.''


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