Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni must do without three key squad members for next week’s World Cup qualifier against Cyprus, but the Italian has welcomed back the fit-again Damien Duff.
Newcastle winger Duff has been recalled to Trapattoni’s 21-man party after missing last month’s victory over Georgia and the draw with Montenegro as he struggled to shake off a knee complaint but was a dead-cert to return as soon as he was fit.
But to counter-balance the good news on 29-year-old Duff, the Republic must do without injured trio Steve Finnan, Steven Reid and Stephen Kelly.
That will come as a blow to Trapattoni, who named Espanyol full-back Finnan and Blackburn midfielder Reid in the starting line up for both of his opening qualifiers.
Meanwhile, there is a return to the squad too for Scunthorpe keeper Joe Murphy, who will provide the back-up to Shay Given and Dean Kiely.
The Republic head into their third Group 8 game, at Croke Park next Wednesday evening, having beaten Georgia 2-1 in Mainz, Germany, and then returned from Montenegro with a hard-earned point after a 0-0 draw in Podgorica.
Cyprus, who face the Georgians in Tbilisi on Saturday – the Ireland game was played at a neutral venue because of the political situation in the former Soviet state – were unfortunate to lose 2-1 at home to world champions Italy in their opening fixture last month.
They have a history with the Republic after a 5-2 victory in Nicosia in October 2006 left Steve Staunton’s side facing a losing battle to qualify for Euro 2008.
The sides drew 1-1 at Croke Park in the return game a year later, when Finnan’s injury-time strike secured a point, but the damage had already been done.