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Football: Kelly and Kennedy add to Republic's injury problems

THE LEEDS United full-back, Gary Kelly, and the Manchester City winger, Mark Kennedy, have both withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland squad to meet Turkey in Saturday's European Championship play-off match at Lansdowne Road.

Problems continue to mount for the Republic manager, Mick McCarthy, who is already without the services of Steve Staunton, the Liverpool defender, and Matt Holland, the Ipswich midfielder.

The injury crisis may force McCarthy to call up Blackburn's Jason McAteer and Jeff Kenna as well as Curtis Fleming, the Middlesbrough defender.

Kelly is ruled out of both the home and away games against the Turks because of a pulled hamstring picked up last week, although he did play in his side's 2-0 defeat at Wimbledon on Sunday.

Kennedy also has a hamstring injury which rules him out for two weeks, although McCarthy has not given up hope of him being available for the return leg against the Turks, in Bursa on 17 November.

One piece of good news for the Irish is that Denis Irwin,the veteran Manchester United full-back, is expected to be fit after further treatment at Old Trafford. "I have spoken to both Alex Ferguson and Denis and the player tells me he is confident that he will be fit for Saturday," McCarthy said.

With so many withdrawals it now looks certain that Ian Harte, Kelly's team-mate at Leeds, and his nephew, will play at left-back, while there could also be an opportunity for Derby's Rory Delap to win a fourth cap on the right side of midfield. However, McCarthy was not tempted to give a late call-up to Sunderland's Paul Butler.

"Paul is still suffering from a hamstring injury and it would be unfair on him and us to make his debut at this stage. It might have been different had he 25 caps under his belt," McCarthy said.

Over the weekend Staunton was ruled out with a knee injury while Holland is omitted because of an ankle problem. However, like Kennedy, Holland could be called up for the return leg in Turkey.