O’Shea is U-21 skipper

MANCHESTER UNITED’S John O’Shea will captain the Irish U-21 team against Finland in Helsinki on Tuesday, August 20, the eve of the senior international match.

O’Shea, whose first-team prospects at United have not been helped by the signing of Rio Ferdinand, has made one appearance for Ireland’s senior team and 12 for the U-21 side.

He was a candidate for inclusion in the squad of 23 for the World Cup finals in Asia and it can only be a matter of time before this talented defender is a regular with Ireland.

His prospects would be helped, of course, if he were playing regularly for United’s first team. Just as assuredly players like Thomas Butler (Sunderland), goalkeeper Joe Murphy (West Brom), Shaun Byrne (West Ham) and Graham Barrett (Arsenal) would immediately be candidates for Ireland’s top team if they were assured of regular first team football at club level.

The Irish squad released yesterday by manager Don Givens is:

Joe Murphy (West Brom), Graham Stack (Arsenal), John O’Shea (Manchester Utd), Jim Goodwin (Stockport County), John Thompson (Nottingham Forest), Clifford Byrne (Sunderland), Thomas Butler (Sunderland), Paul Tierney (Manchester Utd), Liam Muller (Celtic), Michael Doyle (Celtic), Dwayne Mattis (Huddersfield Town), Shaun Byrne (West Ham), Andy Reid (Nottingham Forest), Ben Burgess (Stockport County), Joe Gamble (Reading), Jonathan Daly (Stockport County), Michael Keane (Preston), Graham Barrett (Arsenal).

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