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Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Duff out of Republic qualifiers

Republic of Ireland v Bulgaria - World Cup qualifier
Venue: Croke Park Date: Saturday, 28 March Kick-off: 1945 GMT Coverage: Live updates on BBC Sport Website, Live on Sky Sports 1

Damien Duff
Damien Duff's absence is a huge blow to the Republic's plans

Damien Duff has been ruled out of the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Italy by a hamstring injury.

Thursday evening's shock news was a massive blow to the Republic's hopes for the vital two qualifiers over the next week.

Aiden McGeady remains a fitness doubt but goalkeeper Shay Given will be fit.

Stephen Hunt will replace Duff in the starting line-up while Anthony Stokes has been called up to the squad.

McGeady took only a limited part in training on Thursday and faces a fitness test on Friday.

Wolves midfield Andy Keogh is in line to come into the team if McGeady is ruled out.


Duff picked up the injury in training on Wednesday and a scan on Thursday morning revealed that he is likely to be out for two weeks.

After a long injury-affected spell, Duff has returned to impressive form for the Republic in recent games.

The Newcastle winger's withdrawal was confirmed by Republic assistant Liam Brady on Thursday evening.

Brady revealed that manager Giovanni Trapattoni had taken the player aside before his departure to tell him to get himself fit and ready for the trip to Bulgaria in June.

"He has had a season of disappointments as regards injuries this year and the lad was very down," said Brady.

"We just want to get him back fit and have him ready for the next game against Bulgaria on 6 June."

Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt took Duff's place in both Mainz and Podgorica, and it is to he that Trapattoni will turn to once again this Saturday.

"He (Hunt) is well ready and well able for it," added Brady.

Aiden McGeady is feeling confident as well that he is going to be fit to play
Liam Brady

The Republic assistant is hopeful that McGeady will be passed fit to play on Saturday.

"He has a very bruised foot and we kept him out of contact, such as tackling and kicking the ball.

"But he has done some light training and he is feeling good and he is feeling confident as well that he is going to be fit to play."

"But we will know much more tomorrow on that."

If McGeady is fit, right-back is likely to be Trapattoni's only selection headache with Sunderland's Paul McShane favoured to edge out Stoke's Stephen Kelly.

Trapattoni is already minus Steve Finnan who misses out because of a hamstring injury.

The Republic take on Group Eight leaders Italy in Bari four days after the Bulgaria game.

The Italians are ahead of Trapattoni's team on goal difference with both teams locked on 10 points after four games.

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see also
Pick your Rep of Ireland XI
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals
Finnan out of Republic qualifiers
19 Mar 09 |  Internationals
O'Dea called up to Republic squad
16 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Keane accepts luck was with Irish
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Republic of Ireland 2-1 Georgia
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Republic of Ireland 1-0 Cyprus
15 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Republic draw delights Trapattoni
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Montenegro 0-0 Rep of Ireland
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland
06 Sep 08 |  Internationals

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