Duff Road Ahead for Republic to Reach Rio

The Irish camp has been rocked with the news of Damien Duff’s retirement as the Green Army prepares to mobilise again to a Samba beat. The next chapter in the Irish football story starts here with Giovanni Trapattoni’s announcement of the squad for the first World Cup 2014 qualifier with Kazakhstan. Duffer follows Shay Given by calling time on his international career but skipper Robbie Keane returns. Stung by criticism that he didn’t introduce new faces, Trapattoni, by default, now leads a new-look Republic. We’ve closed the book on the European tragedy and open the first page in the mystery novel that will eventually answer if Ireland will go to Brazil.

Damien Duff’s decision to follow Shay Given into the international sunset has dealt a blow to Giovanni Trapattoni’s plans as it was widely believed the Dubliner would remain on board for another campaign. It now paves the way for Sunderland’s James McClean to nail a starting place, an incredible rise to prominence for the Derry Die-Hard.

Veteran skipper Robbie Keane returns to the squad but for the first time in Trapattoni’s tenure as Republic manager, his starting eleven is far from certain.

With Ireland facing the might of Oman in a London friendly just after the trip to Astana, Trapattoni looks likely to run the rule over quite a few of those who may not be involved in the qualifier. However, Stephen Hunt is again omitted while Ciaran Clark is nowhere to be seen.

Despite the absence of Paul Green, there’s no recall for Wes Hoolahan who cried out of the Serbia friendly last week. Only further injuries look likely to open the door for the Norwich midfielder.

Marc Wilson does get back in, however, after also pulling out of the Belgrade clash. Joey O’Brien holds onto a place while Andy Keogh and Paul McShane retain the affections of the management.

Trapattoni will travel to England this weekend to speak to Richard Dunne but he intimated that the Aston Villa man will commit for another campaign and will return for the visit of the Germans to Dublin.

Shay Given is no longer part of the Irish set-up for the first time in 16 years with Keirin Westwood likely to cement his place as Ireland No. 1.

Tallaght’s sharp-shooter Robbie Keane has been scoring for fun in the Wild West of the MLS. The young gun of our last World Cup odyssey in 2002, Keane, now the elder statesmen, is back though he may be reduced to a bit-part role in Trapattoni’s Rio revolution.

The rocky road to Poland did untold damage to the Irish footballing bandwagon. We’ve replaced some older parts with new as Giovanni Trapattoni begins the journey to Brazil in the far-flung reaches of Kazakhstan.

Will the nation that gave us Rivelino, Rivaldo, Romario, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho revel to the rhythms of Riverdance if the Republic can reach Rio?

Republic of Ireland v Kazakhstan/Oman: Westwood, Forde, Randolph, Wilson, O’Shea, St Ledger, O’Dea, Ward, Kelly, McShane, Gibson, McCarthy, Whelan, Coleman, O’Brien, McGeady, Keogh, McClean, Keane, Doyle, Long, Cox, Walters

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