Givens retains Hoolahan for friendly

Manager Don Givens has retained Shelbourne’s Wesley Hoolahan in his squad of 18 for Ireland’s U21 friendly match against Scotland at Kilmarnock’s ground at Rugby Park on Tuesday, February 11.

Manager Don Givens has retained Shelbourne’s Wesley Hoolahan in his squad of 18 for Ireland’s U21 friendly match against Scotland at Kilmarnock’s ground at Rugby Park on Tuesday, February 11.

Hoolahan made his U21 international debut against Finland in the friendly in Helsinki in August of last year and was also involved in the squads for the two Euro 2004 Championship qualifiers against Russia in Moscow in September and against Switzerland in Buckley Park, Kilkenny, the following month.

Hoolahan is the only eircom League player included by Givens for next month’s friendly, though he has given the call-up to two of Brian Kerr’s U20s - Stephen Brennan (Newcastle United) and Stephen Paisley (Manchester City).

Paisley was, in fact, called up by Givens for the last match played by the U21s against the Swiss in October, a game the Irish lost 3-2 having led by two goals after just eight minutes.

Also given the call again is Noel Hunt who was recently transferred from Shamrock Rovers to Scottish club Dunfermline.

Hunt was called into the squad for the game against Switzerland and, in fact, came on as a late substitute, replacing John Thompson (Nottingham Forest) in the 88th minute.

Hunt was with Shamrock Rovers at the time. He made his first team debut for Dunfermline only last Tuesday in their Scottish Premier League game against Dundee.

He is in the squad for the game against the Scots along with his Dunfermline team mate Gary Dempsey.

Givens has also given the call to former Irish U18 player JJ Melligan, now playing with Kidderminster, and Sean Thornton (Sunderland), who was due to go to the UAE a fortnight ago but was withdrawn from the squad because of club commitments.

Also included are Thomas Butler (Sunderland), Graham Barrett (Arsenal - on loan to Brighton) and Jim Goodwin (Stockport County), the three players called up by Mick McCarthy for the senior friendly against Finland last August - and all of whom played in Helsinki.

Barrett scored the third Irish goal in the 3-0 victory shortly after coming on as a substitute for Ian Harte (Leeds United).

All three played in the U21 Euro Championship games against Russia and Switzerland.

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