Duff back but three others out for Ireland

October 8, 2008

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni must do without three key squad members for next week's World Cup qualifier against Cyprus, but the Italian has welcomed back the fit-again Damien Duff.

Newcastle winger Duff has been recalled to Trapattoni's 21-man party after missing last month's victory over Georgia and the draw with Montenegro as he struggled to shake off a knee complaint but was a dead-cert to return as soon as he was fit.

But to counter-balance the good news on 29-year-old Duff, the Republic must do without injured trio Steve Finnan, Steven Reid and Stephen Kelly.

That will come as a blow to Trapattoni, who named Espanyol full-back Finnan and Blackburn midfielder Reid in the starting line up for both of his opening qualifiers.

Meanwhile, there is a return to the squad too for Scunthorpe keeper Joe Murphy, who will provide the back-up to Shay Given and Dean Kiely.

The Republic head into their third Group 8 game, at Croke Park next Wednesday evening, having beaten Georgia 2-1 in Mainz, Germany, and then returned from Montenegro with a hard-earned point after a 0-0 draw in Podgorica.

Cyprus, who face the Georgians in Tbilisi on Saturday - the Ireland game was played at a neutral venue because of the political situation in the former Soviet state - were unfortunate to lose 2-1 at home to world champions Italy in their opening fixture last month.

They have a history with the Republic after a 5-2 victory in Nicosia in October 2006 left Steve Staunton's side facing a losing battle to qualify for Euro 2008.

The sides drew 1-1 at Croke Park in the return game a year later, when Finnan's injury-time strike secured a point, but the damage had already been done.