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Euro 2012: Versatile Kelly ready for action


Stephen Kelly

Stephen Kelly

Stephen Kelly

STEPHEN Kelly and Paul McShane have told Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni they are ready to step into the breach if he needs them.

Kelly has made his name as a full-back, but can play across the back four, while McShane has lined up on both the right side and in the middle of the defence during his career to date.

That versatility could prove key at Euro 2012 with John O'Shea and Darren O'Dea nursing injuries in Montecatini following niggles for Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger, while Trapattoni is also acutely aware of how costly yellow and red cards can be in tournament football.

As a result, flexibility is key and both Kelly and McShane are happy to be considered for multiple roles.

The 28-year-old Fulham defender said: "I feel comfortable anywhere across the back four, and that's been of benefit to me in the past. I have played in every position across there.

"It's something the manager knows and I think he likes it about me. My strongest position is obviously right-back, being a natural right-footer, and that's where I play for my club every week.

"But if the manager was to ask me to play anywhere, I would do it - and gladly do it - and give 100%. I think I can fill in and do a good job there."

It was precisely that kind of adaptability which earned 26-year-old McShane his last-minute call-up to Trapattoni's final 23 in place of the unfortunate Kevin Foley.

He said: "I can play both positions. I feel comfortable there, and I can play right-back also, whatever is needed, really.

"If there is an injury or whatever, I am ready to step in."

The Ireland squad had a day off yesterday as they came to terms with Foley's surprise exclusion, and while McShane felt for a man with whom he played at Under-19 and Under-21 levels, he now has to prepare himself for the heat of tournament battle.

Trapattoni confirmed on Tuesday night that the Wolves full-back's exit had nothing to do with the hamstring injury with which he had been struggling for the previous week or so, and everything to do with his replacement's ability to cover the central defensive positions.

Ironically, it was the latter who missed training the following day with a heel problem, although one which ultimately did not prevent him from playing in the 5-0 friendly victory over a Tuscan Select XI.

McShane said: "I had a bruised foot. I went to kick a ball against Bosnia and got caught on the ground, and I was just worried it was a ligament.

"I didn't want to come to the squad and then be sent home with an injury, so I just wanted to try to rest it as much as I could.

"But I had a scan and it turned out it was just superficial, just a few muscle fibres in the foot, so everything is grand."