Football: McAteer misses vital visit of Macedonia

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JASON McATEER, the Blackburn midfielder, is out of the Republic of Ireland side for tomorrow's crucial Group Eight European Championship qualifying tie against Macedonia in Dublin, after failing a fitness test on his calf injury. His place goes to Wimbledon's Mark Kennedy.

After the friendly 1-0 defeat to Northern Ireland in in Dublin last month, the Sheffield United goalkeeper Alan Kelly takes over from the injured Shay Given, while Blackburn's Lee Carsley is in central midfield instead of Portsmouth's Alan McLoughlin. The Coventry defender Gary Breen is preferred to Liverpool's Phil Babb, while Manchester United's Denis Irwin takes over from the Leeds full-back Alan Maybury.

"The fact that Croatia were held to a 1-1 draw by Macedonia in Skopje on Saturday was a good result for us - but only if we beat the Macedonians," said the Republic's manager, Mick McCarthy.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (v Macedonia, European Championship qualifier, Dublin, tomorrow): Kelly (Sheffield Utd); Carr (Tottenham), Cunningham (Wimbledon), Breen (Coventry), Irwin (Manchester Utd); Kennedy (Wimbledon), Carsley (Blackburn), Kinsella (Charlton), Duff (Blackburn); Keane (Wolves), Quinn (Sunderland).