Wednesday 21 February 2018

Richard Dunne rested for Martin O'Neill's first game in charge

Stephen Ward and Alex Pearce make returns to the squad

Stephen Ward is back in the Republic of Ireland squad
Stephen Ward is back in the Republic of Ireland squad
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

RICHARD Dunne will miss out on the chance to work with the new Irish management team of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane next week.

The defender has been left out of the squad for the friendlies with Latvia and Poland so he can rest the groin injury that ended his Aston Villa career and placed his football future in jeopardy. Dunne, who turned 34 last month, still stay with QPR to work on his recovery programme.

Noel King selected the 27 man squad for the double header – his last duty as caretaker boss. He has recalled Stephen Ward [Brighton] and Alex Pearce [Reading] but there is no place for Hull's in-form defender Paul McShane. Crystal Palace's Damien Delaney, who captained the Irish side in last month's defeat to Germany, misses out through injury. Hull's David Meyler is another absentee.

Ward, Ireland's first choice left back at Euro 2012, dropped out of favour after the 6-1 hammering at the hands of Germany last October, but he's been galvanised by a loan switch to Brighton.

Skipper and record goalscorer Robbie Keane is included, although if LA Galaxy succeed in progressing to the Western Conference Final – effectively the semi final of the MLS championship – then the Ireland fixtures will fall in the middle of that two legged encounter.

Ireland Squad: Forde [Millwall], Westwood [Sunderland], Elliot [Newcastle]; St Ledger [Leicester], Wilson [Stoke], Coleman [Everton], O'Shea [Sunderland], Clark [Aston Villa], Pearce [Reading], Kelly [Reading], O'Brien [West Ham], Ward [Brighton]; McCarthy [Everton], Whelan [Stoke], Green [Leeds], Reid [Nottingham Forest], McGeady [Spartak Moscow], Pilkington [Norwich], McClean [Wigan], Brady [Hull], Quinn [Hull], Hoolahan [Norwich]; Long [WBA], Keane [LA Galaxy], Walters [Stoke], Doyle [Wolves], Stokes [Celtic]

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