Belfast Telegraph

Ireland's Shay Given warns booing will spur Scotland on

By Damien Spellman

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given has warned Scotland that booing Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy at Celtic Park will only spur them on.

The two Republic midfielders have been told to expect to run the gauntlet at Celtic Park on Friday evening after opting to represent the country of their forebears rather than that of their birth.

Given, who had a spell at Celtic early in his career, denounced some of the rhetoric surrounding the Scotland camp in the run up to the game, but backed the Everton duo to respond in positive fashion.

He said: "They are very good players and really on top of their game at the minute as well.

"You could go around every country in Europe and say there are players born in different countries who are playing for them, so I did think it was unfair.

"You can go through the Scottish squad as well and see some of their players not being born in Scotland - that's not having a go at them, they are the rules of FIFA or whatever - so I did think it was unfair on both Aiden and James.

"But they are great players and that's probably why we are standing here talking about them, because they (the Scots) probably wish they were playing for Scotland."

Republic boss Martin O'Neill too knows Celtic Park like the back of his hand after his five hugely successful years there as manager, and he is confident the duo will not be fazed by whatever treatment they receive from the locals.

The former Northern Ireland skipper said: "Well, that's their prerogative to do that there and I suppose any amount of pleading on the other side is not going to prevent anything that may occur.

"But they are very fine players and I think they are able to cope with anything that might come their way."

Asked if he agreed with Scotland boss Gordon Strachan that any barracking would be acceptable as long as it was football-based, O'Neill replied: "Well I'm not sure I would share Gordon's view, but there you go."

The return to the stadium where he enjoyed perhaps the most successful spell of his managerial career is one O'Neill is relishing, but he insists his focus will be purely on the present rather than the past.

He said: "It's a great, great stadium and I had some wonderful days there. But I am not going back to manage Celtic, I am going back to involve myself in an international game where Scotland are going to be playing at home."

O'Neill and his players are brimming with confidence after last month's 1-1 draw in Germany.

The 62-year-old said: "That's exactly right, we do have confidence and that big result against Germany. Scoring in the last minute, taking the game to them in the last 20-odd minutes when we went a goal behind, I think, has given the boys plenty of confidence."

Meanwhile striker Kevin Doyle has withdrawn from the Republic squad.

Doyle, on loan at Crystal Palace from Wolves, was unable to train with his team-mates at Gannon Park in Malahide yesterday because of a groin injury.

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