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Hodgson hopeful over Duff fitness

WORLD CUP PLAY-OFF: REPUBLIC OF IRELAND v FRANCE
First leg: Croke Park, Dublin Date: Saturday, 14 November Kick-off: 1900 GMT Second leg: Stade de France, Paris Date: Wednesday, 18 November Kick-off: 1900 GMT Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Sport website



Damien Duff
Duff was forced off in Fulham's win over Liverpool on Saturday

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is optimistic that Damien Duff will be available for the Republic of Ireland's World Cup play-off against France.

An Achilles strain forced Duff to come off in Fulham's win over Liverpool.

However, Hodgson will give Duff every opportunity to be fit for the play-off games on 14 and 18 November.

"It is very hard stopping Damien playing for the Republic of Ireland. You have to lock him in a cage," added the Fulham boss.

Hodgson added that Duff would play no part in Thursday's Europa League game in Rome.

"It's an injury he has been struggling with for a while," he said.

If he's fit for next Sunday then there's no reason why he shouldn't play for the Republic

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson

"It stems from his Achilles, although it's a little bit more complicated than that.

"There is no way I would even consider him for Roma. I will ask the medical staff to take as long as they need to try to get him back into shape as quickly as they can.

"And if he's fit for next Sunday then there's no reason why he shouldn't play for the Republic."

Duff is a key member of manager Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic squad.

Trapattoni announced his squad for the play-off on Friday and the main talking point was the omission of Steven Reid and Steve Finnan.

Blackburn midfielder Reid and Portsmouth defender Finnan have recovered from recent injuries but failed to make the 25-man squad.

Sunderland's Andy Reid and Coventry's Clinton Morrison were also omitted.

606: DEBATE
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The first leg of the play-off is at Dublin's Croke Park on 14 November and the second in Paris on 18 November.

"This team now is balanced. It is not the time to change the team now. We have a mentality," said Trapattoni.

The Italian added: "We performed strongly throughout the qualifying group stages.

"We were undefeated in all 10 games and this is a reflection of how we have played and also the mental strength of this team."

Despite the strength of the opposition, Trapattoni believes his Republic squad showed enough during the group stage of the qualifying campaign, where they finished second behind Italy in European Group Eight.

Trapattoni added: "France have a strong squad but we go into this play-off knowing that we are only 180 minutes away from qualifying for the World Cup."

The Republic manager recently drew an angry response from Reid's club boss Sam Allardyce for suggesting the midfielder might not completely recover from a knee injury.


Republic of Ireland squad: Given (Man City), Westwood (Coventry), Murphy (Scunthorpe), O'Shea (Man Utd), Dunne (Villa), Kelly (Fulham), Kilbane (Hull), Nolan (Preston), St Ledger (Middlesbrough), McShane (Hull), O'Dea (Reading), McGeady (Celtic), Duff (Fulham), Gibson (Man Utd), Whelan (Stoke), Andrews (Blackburn), Miller (Hibernian), Hunt (Hull), Keogh (Wolves), Lawrence (Stoke), Doyle (Wolves), Keane (Tottenham), Long (Reading), Best (Coventry), Stokes (Hibernian).



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see also
Blackburn boss slams Trapattoni
23 Oct 09 |  Blackburn
Republic face France in play-offs
19 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Who has qualified for South Africa 2010?
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Rep of Ireland 0-0 Montenegro
14 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Rep of Ireland 2-2 Italy
10 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Pick your Rep of Ireland XI
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals


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