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Strachan sees Jay taking direct route to Riverside

MIDDLESBROUGH boss Gordon Strachan is delighted to have landed Ireland U21 cap Jay O'Shea on loan from Birmingham City -- months after he considered signing the player from Galway United.

O'Shea broke into the Birmingham team immediately after his arrival from Galway last summer and made three appearances but he has not featured under Alex McLeish in recent months.

And now Strachan has managed to persuade Birmingham to allow the Dubliner leave on loan, being well aware of his talent as his chief scout, Gordon McQueen, was previously tracking the player.

"Gordon McQueen knew of him before he went to Birmingham," explained Strachan.

"He can play wide on either side of midfield and is more direct than what we've got here."

O'Shea will go straight into a Boro squad which has been depleted by injuries to players like Dubliner Willo Flood, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Birmingham boss McLeish said: "It's good for him to go out and get some experience.

"Hopefully he'll feature in Gordon Strachan's team.

"I know that Gordon has got some good quality in there already so it will be big competition for James and he's another one who needs league experience. Middlesbrough have also got a chance of the play-offs, too."

ARMENIA have warned Ireland that they have some surprises in store when they kick off the Euro 2012 campaign in Armenia in September.

Giovanni Trapattoni's first game in the new campaign will be in Yerevan's Republic Stadium on Friday September 3 and Armenia feel they can cause problems at home.

"The calendar of games for the qualifiers has turned out the way we wanted, three of our first four games are at home," Armenia coach Vardan Minasyan said. "We wanted to have the first game at home to either Ireland or Slovakia and we got Ireland. We need to have a winning start to the campaign and I feel we can get that."

CHELSEA defender Yuri Zhirkov is glad that he will clear his one-match suspension in the Euro 2012 qualifiers before Russia's crucial visit to Dublin in October.

Zhirkov was handed a one-match ban after he was sent off in Russia's World Cup defeat by Slovenia last year and he was afraid that the suspension would force him to miss one of their crucial games, but he will only sit out their home game with Andorra and will be clear to play when Russia visit Dublin.

"I hoped our first game would be against Andorra. I have a one-match ban and I wanted it to be against one of the smaller teams," Zhirkov said.