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Wednesday, November 17, 1999 Published at 09:12 GMT

Sport: Football

Quinn losing fitness battle

McCarthy: 'We will not be taking any silly risks with Quinn'

Turkey vs Republic of Ireland, 17 Nov, kick-off 1800 GMT

The Republic of Ireland are likely to be without both of their first-choice strikers for Wednesday's decisive Euro 2000 play-off against Turkey.

Fears are growing that the neck injury which forced Sunderland striker Niall Quinn to withdraw at the last moment from Saturday's 1-1 first-leg draw will not clear up in time.

And with Robbie Keane already suspended, the Republic are likely to have to rely on 37-year-old veteran Tony Cascarino and fellow stand-in David Connolly, who has started only one international in the last 12 months.

[ image: Quinn takes on England's David Batty back in 1990]
Quinn takes on England's David Batty back in 1990
With Turkey nursing a precious away goal, Mick McCarthy's men know they must score in Bursa to have any hope of qualifying.

Cascarino has 87 caps and has scored 19 international goals while Connolly was once as highly regarded as Keane.

But the pairing will be up against it in Turkey.

Quinn has not yet been able to train with the squad in Bursa after arriving on Sunday night and McCarthy said: "He will have to do something this evening and only then will I have a chance of seeing whether he will be ready.

Last-minute decision

"But if there is still a doubt I will give him as long as possible and perhaps even delay naming the side until just before the kick-off.

"There is no way we can take silly chances with anyone."

Cascarino, who along with Quinn is one goal away from Frank Stapleton's scoring record, was not a success when deputising for him on Saturday and was replaced by Connolly early in the second half.

McCarthy has Charlton midfielder Mark Kinsella back from suspension to rejoin skipper Roy Keane in midfield.

Lone star

If the manager opts to play Connolly or Cascarino as a lone striker, Blackburn's Lee Carsley would almost certainly start as well.

Derby's Rory Delap, who made his competitive debut for Ireland on Saturday, faces a challenge for his right-flank place from two Blackburn players - Damien Duff and Jason McAteer, the latter having been out of the Irish side for seven months through injury.

Turkey need only a scoreless draw to go but are still expected to recall Arif Erden, a hat-trick hero against Northern Ireland in the qualifiers.

He will pair up in attack with 26-goal Hakan Sukur, who scored the goal which beat Germany in Turkey earlier this season.

The game will take place in the intimate but intimidating surroundings of the Ataturk stadium in Bursa, which took the Irish eight hours to reach via air, road, and sea ferry.

The venue, which holds only 20,000, was chosen because there is a major Nato security conference in Istanbul attended by American president Bill Clinton and Irish premier Bertie Ahearn.

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