Sean St Ledger has been told that the role as centre-half partner to Richard Dunne is his to lose.
The Preston defender emerged from outside the picture to star in the early summer double-header with Nigeria and Bulgaria and Irish assistant manager Liam Brady has confirmed he will keep his place for tomorrow's friendly with Australia at Thomond Park. And Giovanni Trapattoni favours keeping the duo together for next month's crunch World Cup qualifier in Cyprus, with John O'Shea set to continue at right-back.
“I think the manager will start with the team that's going to confront Cyprus,” said Brady, yesterday. “It's a chance for St Ledger again with Richard at the centre of defence and John at the right.
“We've been impressed by his composure and his reading of the game. He's not a giant by any means but he reads the game very well.
“He's got good leadership qualities and he's given the manager the impression that international football wouldn't be a problem for him.
Kevin Doyle, returning from a hernia operation will also line up against the Australians, although he will be withdrawn at the break.