Football: Keane in fold to lift Republic's play-off chances

ROY KEANE is back in the Republic of Ireland squad for the vital Euro 2000 play-off games against Turkey at Lansdowne Road on 13 November and the return in Bursa four days later.

The Manchester United captain has missed out on the Republic's last three European Championship qualifiers, against Croatia, Malta and Macedonia. Also returning following a knee operation is the Leeds United defender Ian Harte. There is also a call up for Derby County's Rory Delap, who won the last of his three caps in a scoreless draw with Mexico in Dublin just before the World Cup finals in France last year.

Mick McCarthy, the Republic's manager, has trimmed his squad down to 22 players after initially announcing a 30-man party last week. Ruled out by injuries are the Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given and Sunderland defender Paul Butler, who suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday's 2-1 victory over Spurs at the Stadium of Light.

The Blackburn midfielder Jason McAteer was not considered as he has only recently returned to the game after a lengthy injury lay-off, making only two substitute appearances for Brian Kidd's team.

The one surprise omission is Middlesbrough's Keith O'Neill, but McCarthy was quick to defend his selection policy. "I see Keith as an out-and-out winger but at the minute he's in the pecking order behind Mark Kennedy, Damien Duff and Kevin Kilbane. Keith's chance will come again," McCarthy said.

Charlton's midfielder Mark Kinsella misses the first game against the Turks in Dublin because of a one-match suspension after picking up two yellow cards in the qualifiers, although he will be available for the return leg. The former Watford striker David Connolly keeps his place despite being on loan to Dutch first division side Excelsior from his present club, Feyenoord.

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