Finnan out of Ireland qualifier with Czechs

September 10, 2007

Republic of Ireland boss Steve Staunton has confirmed defender Steve Finnan will miss Wednesday's Euro 2008 qualifier against the Czech Republic through injury.

The Liverpool defender's absence means Stephen Kelly is set to continue in the left-back position in which he put up a creditable performance in Prague. And the 24-year-old is relishing the opportunity to start such a high-profile game.

Kelly said: 'I think I performed well enough to keep my place and we'll have to see what the manager's decision is. But all the decisions he has made so far have been great.

'We know that Wednesday is a huge game for the country and we just need to perform. What happened in Slovakia on Wednesday was unfortunate and we can't have that lapse in concentration.'

Staunton has found himself at the centre of an embarrassing mix-up over a family bereavement which has ruled Stephen Ireland out of Wednesday's Euro 2008 qualifier in Prague.

Ireland was told by FAI officials shortly after Saturday's 2-2 draw in Slovakia that his maternal grandmother, with whom he was particularly close, had died. He was still under that impression when he flew back to Manchester the next morning.

It was not until he arrived back home in Cheshire that Ireland discovered it was in fact his paternal grandmother who had passed away.

In the meantime, the FAI issued a statement which led to the wrong grandmother being named as deceased in the first editions of some newspapers.

Staunton said the FAI officials who had broken the news to the player after the match in Bratislava had been misinformed.

He revealed: 'I was up half the night [sorting it out]. It's not on his mother's side, it's on his father's side. We were given the wrong information. It's his grandmother, we send him our best wishes and that's the end of that.

'I spoke to Stephen this morning. The grandmother's in London and the family don't know whether to move her back to Cork. That's their own business so I think everybody should let it lie and respect the family.'

The absence of Ireland will leave Staunton with a midfield dilemma ahead of the match against the Czechs which his side have to win to stand any realistic chance of progressing from Group D as runners-up.

Charlton's Andy Reid is the obvious choice as a straight swap for the Manchester City man in the middle although the employment of Jonathon Douglas in a more holding role is another option.