By Liam Mackey
REPUBLIC of Ireland manager Steve Staunton will be an interested spectator as the national U21 side contest a four team Madeira tournament.
Staunton travelled primarily to run the rule over exciting 19-year-old talent Stephen Ireland. However, the Manchester City midfielder withdrew from the squad yesterday following a groin injury sustained over the weekend. Ireland has been replaced by Waterford United’s Stephen Grant.
It was to be the first time that Ireland figured for his country since an altercation with Brian Kerr a few years ago.
Ireland U21 boss Don Givens believes the teenage sensation should figure in Staunton’s plans for next months senior international friendly against Sweden.
"It was important to get him involved again. His past history is well documented, but that is in the past."
Though Ireland is not on show Givens believes that Staunton’s trip will not have been wasted.
"I know Steve will be watching our first game against Madeira, which is good for the rest of the lads."
Givens hopes Staunton does not have the problems he has encountered over the past few days because of the original 20-man squad named on January 25, just 10 remain.
It has led to a flood of telephone calls in a bid to plug the gaps, with a frustrated Givens exclaiming: "It’s been chaos. It was similar two years ago, but not to this extent, and means we go into the tournament with an understrength squad. But it is a chance for some of the lads to shine."
REPUBLIC U21 SQUAD: D Quigley (UCD), K Keane (Luton), J Hand (Huddersfield Town) , D O’Dea (Celtic), R Keogh (Bristol City), G Dicker (UCD), R O’Donovan (Cork City), S Ward (Bohemians), M Timlin (Fulham), A O’Brien (Newcastle United), K O’Connor (Wolves), C Deans (Waterford), A Keogh (Scunthorpe), A Stokes (Arsenal), D Randolph (Charlton Athletic), D O’Carroll (Celtic), D Tyrell (Drogheda), J Hayes (Reading), S Grant (Waterford).