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Arter rewarded with Republic call

Midfielder Harry Arter has been rewarded for his contribution to Bournemouth's bid for Barclays Premier League football with a first call-up to the senior Republic of Ireland squad.

The 25-year-old, who regularly represented his country at under-17 and under-19 levels, has been included in a provisional 35-man party for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on March 29.

Manager Martin O'Neill will reduce the initial squad before the players meet up on March 22 ahead of what could prove to be a key game in the qualification campaign, but there could yet be a place for a surprise inclusion in the shape of Arter.

O'Neill told a press conference: "He is having a very good season. I think, yeah, why not? It would be nice to have a look at him.

"He's obviously played at under-age level and I wanted to introduce another fresh face. There are no guarantees of anything. I've met him twice now and I think he deserves that chance.

"This might be a surprise to him as I didn't say anything to him. He will hopefully be pleasantly surprised."

Former Charlton trainee Arter is currently in his fifth season with the Cherries after joining them from Woking in June 2010, and has scored six goals in 38 appearances to date during the current campaign.

Bournemouth head into the weekend having returned to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table as a result of their 5-1 victory at Fulham last weekend, but only on goal difference with Derby, Watford and Middlesbrough all level with them on 66 points and Norwich just a point behind.

Hull midfielder Robbie Brady and Everton counterpart Aiden McGeady have been included, although Brady in particular is struggling with a torn calf muscle, while former Celtic winger McGeady is nursing a bruised knee.

But there was no place for Aston Villa's Jack Grealish, who is yet to make up his mind over whether to opt for Ireland or England, a process which has been ongoing for some time to the particular frustration of O'Neill's assistant and former Villa number two Roy Keane.

The Poland game could prove crucial to the Republic's hopes of making it to the finals in the wake of November's 1-0 Group D defeat in Scotland.

O'Neill's men opened their campaign with victories in Georgia and at home to Gibraltar, and a 1-1 draw in Germany in October boosted their hopes of claiming second spot with the reigning world champions expected to recover from a less-than-impressive start by their lofty standards.

However Poland, who were expected to rival the Irish and the Scots for the runners-up spot, currently enjoy a three-point lead over Germany, Scotland and Ireland at the top of the table having beaten the Germans 2-0 in Warsaw during October, only to be held to a 2-2 draw by Gordon Strachan's men three days later.

O'Neill said: "Poland are a very strong team, they've obviously got off to a great start. Confidence is obviously very high there. They look up to the task. It will be a tough game for us."

Squad: David Forde (Millwall), Shay Given, Ciaran Clark (both Aston Villa), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Randolph (Birmingham), Rob Elliot (Newcastle), Richard Keogh, Cyrus Christie, Jeff Hendrick (all Derby), Marc Wilson, Glenn Whelan, Jon Walters (all Stoke), Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, Aiden McGeady, Darron Gibson (all Everton), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce, Simon Cox (both Reading), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Paul Green (Rotherham), Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff), James McClean (Wigan), Robbie Brady, Stephen Quinn, David Meyler, Paul McShane (all Hull), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy, David McGoldrick (both Ipswich), Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Anthony Stokes (Celtic).

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