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James McClean unlikely to start for Ireland against Kazakhstan due to throat illness

Updated: Wednesday, 05 Sep 2012 12:59 | Comments

James McClean was set to make his international debut in Astana
James McClean was set to make his international debut in Astana

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni will decide today whether James McClean will play any part in the World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan after he had to leave training early yesterday due to illness.

Trapattoni hinted earlier this week that he could hand McClean his first competitive international start on Friday, but the Sunderland winger has been struggling with a cold over the last two days.

McClean missed training on Monday and had to be sent home from yesterday's session in Dublin with the same problem.

Trapattoni will assess the midfielder today before deciding whether he is fit enough to join the rest of the squad aboard their six-and-a-half-hour flight to Astana.

Trapattoni said yesterday: "McClean came here with a sore throat. This morning he was better but now he has a little problem with it.

"I think he will be okay in one day. Then we will make a decision. "That's all we can do."

Trapattoni confirmed yesterday that Nottingham Forest man Simon Cox, who usually plays up front, is likely to start ahead of McClean, but having the lightning quick 23-year-old available as an impact substitute would be a big boost for the Republic as they look to begin a difficult qualifying campaign with a win.

Trapattoni confirmed the team he fielded in training yesterday is his preferred XI for Friday's qualifier in the former Soviet republic.

Should he stick with that team it would mean Kieren Westwood starts in goal, with a back four of Stephen Ward, Darren O'Dea, Sean St Ledger and John O'Shea in front of him.

In midfield, James McCarthy looks set to begin his first competitive game for the country alongside Glenn Whelan, Aiden McGeady and Cox, while Jon Walters partnered Robbie Keane up front.

One man who will not be on the trip to Kazakhstan is Everton midfielder Darron Gibson. Gibson made himself unavailable for the game, and for the friendly against Oman next Tuesday, as he is disillusioned with Trapattoni after he omitted the former Manchester United man from his starting XI throughout Euro 2012.

O'Shea knows Gibson well from their time together at Old Trafford and is sure that the 24-year-old will return to the international fold.

"I'm sure he will be back sooner rather than later," O'Shea said.

"I have not spoken to him but I spoke to the manager about it and they have had a chat and they have come up with this decision.

"Darron felt he was not right at the minute to come in, but fingers crossed when he is ready he will be because he would be a good addition to the team."

Trapattoni, meanwhile, has expressed confidence that he will be able to coax Damien Duff out of retirement, as his assistant Marco Tardelli hinted yesterday.

"My philosophy is never say never," Trapattoni said.

"In the near future we will speak with him. I think he can change his opinion (about retiring)."

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