Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy was giving few hints today on his possible 23-man squad for the World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea this summer.
McCarthy yesterday named a group of 24 players for next Wednesday’s friendly international against the USA at Lansdowne Road.
The manager’s selection has been strongly influenced by injuries, with captain Roy Keane (Manchester United), goalkeeper Alan Kelly (Blackburn), winger Mark Kennedy (Wolves) and midfielder Lee Carsley (Everton) all unavailable, though McCarthy is confident of their return before the finals.
Tottenham defender Stephen Carr has already been ruled out of the trip to the Far East because of a knee injury which has kept him out for the entire season.
McCarthy said: ‘‘I’m not worried about the absence of the four injured lads. It’s better that they have plenty of time to recover before we head off for Tokyo on May 17.’’
After the match against the USA in Dublin, the Republic then play Sunderland in Niall Quinn’s testimonial at the Stadium of Light on May 14.
Two days later the Irish will be in action against Nigeria in Dublin before their departure for Japan.
Effectively there are 28 players still in the running for those 23 seats on the Tokyo flight.
McCarthy has already made it clear that his preference will be for the experienced players who have helped the Republic to the finals, finishing unbeaten in their qualifying matches in a group which included Holland and Portugal before beating Iran in a play-off.
Preparations for Japan have started well with a 2-0 victory over Russia in Dublin in February and then a 3-0 home win over Denmark, also in Dublin last month.
‘‘It woulbe nice to keep this little unbeaten record going in the build-up to the finals. Hopefully we can record another success against the Americans,’’ added McCarthy.
Republic of Ireland squad to play USA in friendly international at Lansdowne Road, Dublin on Wednesday, April 17:
S Given (Newcastle), D Kiely (Charlton), N Colgan (Hibernian), S Staunton (Aston Villa), I Harte (Leeds), R Dunne (Manchester City), G Breen (Coventry), A O’Brien (Newcastle), G Kelly (Leeds), K Cunningham (Wimbledon), S Finnan (Fulham), J McAteer (Sunderland), M Holland (Ipswich), M Kinsella (Charlton), K Kilbane (Sunderland), S Reid (Millwall), C Healy (Coventry), R Delap (Southampton), N Quinn (Sunderland), Robbie Keane (Leeds), C Morrison (Crystal Palace), D Duff (Blackburn), D Connolly (Wimbledon), R Sadlier (Millwall).