By Jay Mwamba
The Republic of Ireland will go into today’s soccer World Cup qualifying game against lowly Andorra at Lansdowne Road without team captain Roy Keane and striker Niall Quinn, both of whom are injured.
The Manchester United midfielder is suffering from a tender hamstring, while Quinn is bothered by a recurring back ailment.
Irish manager, Mick McCarthy, might not have selected Keane anyway as he, along with Robbie Keane, Kenny Cunningham and Jason McAteer, have all picked up yellow cards in the qualifying tournament to date, and a second card would mean a suspension for the crucial match against Portugal in Dublin on June 2.
McCarthy is likely to play Gary Doherty in attack in place of Quinn, while Matt Holland and Mark Kinsell will be selected in the center of midfield.
As this is a game the Irish are expected to win easily, the defections won’t unduly trouble McCarthy and if he decides to start with Robbie Keane, Cunningham and McAteer, the players will probably be substituted at halftime if a lead has been established.
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Dutch recall Ruud
Manchester United target Ruud van Nistelrooy has been recalled to the
Dutch squad for today’s vital World Cup qualifier against Cyprus in Amsterdam, which the two-time losing finalists need to win to stay in touch with Group 2 leaders Ireland.
The free-scoring van Nistelrooy, who has returned to action for PSV Eindhoven with a bang after a lengthy injury, gives the Dutch team a myriad of attacking options against a side mauled 4-0 by the Republic in Nicosia last month.
Coach Louis van Gaal will also have at his disposal Barcelona strikers Patrick Kluivert and Marc Overmars, Chelsea goal-poacher Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and the towering Pierre van Hooijdonk (Benfica).
Holland (2-2-1, 8 points) go into the match against the Cypriots trailing Ireland by three points in Group 2. The Dutch are third, while Portugal, whose next outing will be a visit to Lansdowne Road on June 2, are second on goal difference.
Former Eastern European giants Russia and Yugoslavia, third and fourth respectively in Group 1, clash in Belgrade in one of three other World Cup qualifiers on the continent today.
In the other tussles, the two bottom nation in Northern Ireland’s Group 3, Malta and Iceland, face off in Valetta, while Latvia and San Marino, the stragglers in a Group 6 led by Scotland, will also be in action against each other.
Mark Jones contributed to this report.