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banner Monday, 12 November, 2001, 10:55 GMT
Kinsella replaces Keane
Mark Kinsella takes over from the injured Roy Keane
Kinsella will partner Matt Holland in central midfield
Mark Kinsella will stand in for injured captain Roy Keane when Ireland face Iran in the second leg of the World Cup play-off on Thursday.

Keane was ruled out on Sunday by a longstanding knee problem which flared up after Saturday's 2-0 first leg win over Iran at Lansdowne Road.

The Manchester United skipper could also be facing a prolonged absence from the English champions.

"Mark Kinsella has played most of the campaign anyway," said Irish boss Mick McCarthy who confirmed that the Charlton man would start on Thursday.

"Him and Matty Holland have played exceptionally well together.

"In that respect it is less of blow when you've got players like that to come in," added McCarthy.

Niall Quinn is troubled by a back injury
Niall Quinn is an injury-doubt

Steve Staunton could be handed the captain's armband, assuming he overcomes a hamstring tweak, while Niall Quinn is another struggling for fitness.

"Steve says he feels a lot better this morning.

"With Quinny it's an on-going thing, so we'll just have to see how it goes.

"They will have plenty of treatment but I expect them to play."

Meanwhile, Jason McAteer insists the Republic of Ireland's journey to Tehran holds no fears for the squad.

Minus Roy Keane, the 23-man Irish squad undertook a gruelling seven-hour flight to Tehran on Monday with wild tales of Islamic fanaticism awaiting them in the Iranian capital.

Tehran is just 300 miles from the border of the Afghanistan war-zone.

But Sunderland winger McAteer insisted: "We're ready to face anything and, from what the manager says, we expect nothing but a warm welcome - until maybe kick-off time, that is."

The Azadi Stadium, where the Irish must defend a two-goal first leg lead, holds 112,000 according to official records.

Hostile crowds can actually gee up a lot of players
Jason McAteer

And even if the visitors had arrived with a 5-0 advantage, there is little doubt it would have been full of fans so vociferous that Iranian women are not allowed to attend.

However McAteer expressed confidence ahead of the test.

"This squad has been to a lot of difficult places in all sorts of testing situations over the past few years and it has never affected morale one bit.

"Plenty of times we've played in front of hostile crowds, which is what the Iranians are supposed to have, but we're used to it now and it can actually gee up a lot of players.

"The manager has been there to watch Iran's Asian play-off win and if anybody had any fears he's soon quietened them," added the Sunderland player.

Jason McAteer won the Republic of Ireland's first half penalty on Saturday
McAteer says Ireland won't be intimidated
Ian Harte, Ireland's penalty hero on Saturday, admitted he was more concerned about the long-haul flight than what he would find in Tehran.

"I'm not the best flyer but once we get going I'll settle down and I'll be all right," he said.

Robbie Keane's first international goal for 14 months made it 2-0 on Saturday and gave Ireland something extra to bite on ahead of Thursday's return.

But it was his Leeds team-mate who opened the way and Harte said: "I'll be happy to step up again on Thursday if we get another penalty.

"Thinking about it now, I would probably have had to take that one again on Saturday if the keeper had saved it.

"He moved off his line so early that he seemed to be right on me by the time I struck the ball," added the Leeds defender.

Ian Harte was not looking forward to the flight to Iran
Ian Harte scored Ireland's first half penalty

Attack-minded Harte has hit seven goals, five of them penalties, for Ireland in his 35 appearances.

However, he expects to have much more defending to do on Thursday than was required in the first leg.

"When they finally came back at us in the second half on Saturday, Iran showed lots of ability in attack and we had to thank Shay Given for two terrific saves".

Mick McCarthy insists Ireland are not a team that can just sit back and defend but with Roy Keane out and Quinn a major doubt with back-trouble, he could be forced into a safety-first 4-5-1 formation.

That plan worked for 92 minutes in Zagreb against Croatia in the bid to qualify for Euro 2000, before Davor Suker snatched a last-gasp winner.

But since then, Ireland have been unbeaten in 16 competitive internationals.

Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy
"It's a disappointment, but we've got Mark Kinsella to step in"
Irish journalist Stephen Finn
"You couldn't ask for a better welcome in a country you know so little about"
Other top World Cup 2002 stories:

Links to more World Cup 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


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