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Bruce backs Kieran call

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has urged Kieran Richardson not to turn his back on the chance of a surprise World Cup call-up.

The 25-year-old is back in the fold at the Stadium of Light after recovering from a niggling calf injury, and will hope to retain his place for tomorrow's Premier League clash with Fulham.

Having played much of his football as an emergency left-back in recent times, Richardson has made clear his desire to line-up in his preferred central midfield role. However, Wayne Bridge's decision to declare himself unavailable to England boss Fabio Capello and Ashley Cole's ongoing battle for fitness mean there could be a golden opportunity up for grabs.

Bruce said: "The problem with Kieran is he doesn't particularly like it. He wants to be up at the other end of the pitch and he wants to try to create. But he is an excellent defender, he is very quick, he is naturally left-footed.

"There could be a late call -- there are not many, are there? There are not many natural left-hand-side players full-stop in the country, so who knows?"

ST PATRICK'S Athletic drew 1-1 with Linfield in their Setanta Cup quarter-final first leg clash at Richmond Park last night. Alex Williams' goal for the Saints was cancelled out before half-time by a Jim Ervin penalty.