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Trapattoni looks to senior stars

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has included big guns Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne in his squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia.

Striker Keane returned from a four-game lay-off with a calf injury as a substitute in West Ham's 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Stoke on Sunday but Dunne is facing a race against the clock to declare himself fit after being sidelined since damaging a shoulder in Aston Villa's 3-0 FA Cup fifth round defeat by former club Manchester City on March 2.

Trapattoni said: "Macedonia is a big match for us in our aim to qualify for Euro 2012. Playing at home in the Aviva Stadium is important and we will be keen to build on our recent home performance against Wales."

He added: "Three days later, we will take on Uruguay, who have announced a full-strength squad to come to Dublin, including [Diego] Forlan and [Luis] Suarez.

"This will be a very good challenge for our players, particularly after Uruguay's strong performance in South Africa last summer."

But if Keane and Dunne could be available, keeper Shay Given will not as he continues his recovery from the shoulder injury which has ended his season.

Keiren Westwood's return from a hip problem for Coventry at the weekend means his is likely to win his sixth cap against Macedonia, and the back-up will be provided by Motherwell's Darren Randolph and Millwall's David Forde, neither of whom have yet played for their country at senior level.

Wigan midfielder James McCarthy is also included after meeting Trapattoni face to face to assure him he wants to play for Ireland rather than Scotland.

There is a place too in the 29-man party for vastly-experienced full-back Kevin Kilbane, who could win a 109th cap despite now playing his club football with League One Huddersfield.

Newcastle striker Leon Best also returns after having to withdraw from the squad for last month's Carling Nations Cup victory over Wales with a hamstring injury. Ireland currently trail Group B leaders Russia, who won in Dublin in October, by two points after four games, and are level on points with Armenia and Slovakia.


From Belfast Telegraph