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Ward and Long to start against Slovakia

Trapattoni has surprisingly left out Kevin Doyle ahead of the team’s crucial qualifier at home to Slovakia tomorrow night.

Long has been in good form for West Brom this season.
Long has been in good form for West Brom this season.

Updated at 2.40pm

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI HAS made two surprise calls ahead of Ireland’s game against Slovakia tomorrow.

The manager has opted to hand Stephen Ward a start, while he has also preferred to Shane Long to Kevin Doyle.

The decision puts an end to Kilbane’s Irish record of starting 66 competitive games in a row for his country.

There had been doubts over the Derby left-back’s fitness ahead of the game and it has been confirmed that the player has returned to his club for treatment, with Ipswich’s Damien Delaney being called up in his place.

It is also the first time Trapattoni has left out Doyle in favour of Long, who recently completed a £4.5m move to West Brom from Reading.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that James McCarthy will join up with the senior squad after the U21 side’s game tonight.

The match kicks off at 7.45pm in the Aviva Stadium tomorrow night.

More to follow.

Ireland team to face Slovakia: Shay Given, John O’Shea, Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger, Stephen Ward, Damien Duff, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan, Aiden McGeady, Robbie Keane and Shane Long.

Poll: How many points will Ireland get from their next two Euro 2012 qualifiers?

Read: ‘Dream come true’ as Stevens completes Villa transfer>

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Paul Fennessy

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