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Cunningham fears for Ireland

TEN years after he helped Mick McCarthy's team avoid defeat against Germany at the World Cup finals in Japan and Korea, ex-Ireland captain Kenny Cunningham fears for the current Irish side as they prepare to face the Germans in Dublin on Friday night.

And the former international says he regrets the fact that Damien Duff is not around to take over a central midfield role against Joachim Low's side in the World Cup qualifiers.

Cunningham played against Germany in Ibaraki in 2002 as a sub and was on the field for Robbie Keane's equaliser.

"This is a different German side, this team is better, more energetic and dynamic so it's a big test for the Irish players," Cunningham said.

"We rated the German team in 2002, any German side deserves respect. German teams can vary in terms of individual quality, but the German team which we'll face on Friday will be among their best, they have some outstanding young talent.

"Our very rigid formation which the manager employs was badly exposed at the Euros and that's why I am apprehensive about this game on Friday.

"They will play the way the other teams played against us in the summer, they will overload that central area of the pitch and all you can do is bat off the waves of German attacks.

"It will be a case of fingers crossed, hoping we can get something from the game," added Cunningham, who would have loved to see Duff playing - if he hadn't retired from the international scene.

"It's a pity that Damien Duff isn't around for this game, it would have been great to see him integrated into a more central role for a match like this," Cunningham added.

"If you throw Damien in there with two other central midfielders I think you'd find that we'd retain the ball for longer periods, we'd have one of our most gifted players in a central role where he could influence the game and it's a pity that Damien didn't stay on."