Darron Gibson returns as Republic of Ireland name 40-man provisional squad
Everton midfielder Darron Gibson has been included in a provisional 40-man squad for the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2016 qualifying showdowns with Germany and Poland.
The 27-year-old, who is yet to start the new campaign after damaging a knee in a pre-season friendly against Real Betis in August, has been drafted into the initial party for the clash with Group D leaders Germany at the Aviva Stadium on October 8 and the trip to Warsaw which follows three days later.
Those fixtures will decide the fate of Ireland's qualification hopes after victories over Gibraltar and Georgia earlier this month left them in third place, four points ahead of Scotland and with a chance of claiming at least a play-off berth.
Manager Martin O'Neill said: "After collecting six points from our last two qualifying games, we want to keep the momentum going and continue to push towards sealing qualification from what has proved to be a very difficult group.
"We couldn't have two more difficult games ahead in the shape of world champions Germany at home and in-form Poland in Warsaw."
Gibson has returned to the international fold following a self-imposed exile after falling out with previous manager Giovanni Trapattoni and his most recent appearance for his country came when he started the 1-0 defeat by the Scots in Glasgow last November.
He hit the headlines for the wrong reasons last month when he was banned from driving for 20 months and fined after pleading guilty to charges of driving with excess alcohol, driving without due care and attention and failing to stop after an accident had occurred following an incident in which his car ploughed into three cyclists.
Elsewhere in the squad, there are places for uncapped trio Alan Judge, Eunan O'Kane and Adam Rooney as well as Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter, who missed out last time around through injury.
The squad will be reduced before the players meet up in Dublin on October 4.
Victory in either match would secure a top-three finish, although with Scotland facing whipping boys Gibraltar in their final fixture, their clash with the Poles in Glasgow the night the Republic entertain the Germans could have a major bearing on the way the group pans out.
Should Gordon Strachan's men win both of their games, even two draws would not be enough for Ireland as the Scots have a better head-to-head record.
However, if Scotland were to lose at home to Poland, Ireland would finish ahead of them regardless of what happened in their own remaining qualifiers.
Squad: David Forde (Millwall), Shay Given (Stoke), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Randolph (West Ham), Rob Elliot (Newcastle); Richard Keogh (Derby), Marc Wilson (Stoke), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Derby), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce (Derby), Shane Duffy (Blackburn), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Paul McShane (Reading), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Greg Cunningham (Preston); Robbie Brady (Norwich), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby), Darron Gibson (Everton), Harry Arter, Eunan O'Kane (both Bournemouth), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Paul Green (Rotherham), Aiden McGeady (Everton), James McClean (West Brom), Alan Judge (Brentford), Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff), Stephen Quinn (Reading), David Meyler (Hull); Jonathan Walters (Stoke), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), Anthony Stokes (Celtic), David McGoldrick (Ipswich), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen), Simon Cox (Reading).