Football / World Cup Countdown: Charlton has his options reduced: Injuries afflict Republic of Ireland camp

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The Independent Online
THE Republic of Ireland will have to make do without Kevin Moran and David Kelly for their opening World Cup encounter against Italy in New York on Saturday. The Chelsea striker, Tony Cascarino, is also likely to miss out.

Moran, the 38-year-old Blackburn Rovers stopper, was in the frame to play alongside Paul McGrath at the heart of the Irish defence. Now, with Alan Kernaghan off form and Moran succumbing to a hamstring strain, Coventry's Phil Babb looks likely to win his sixth cap against Baggio, Signori and the rest. 'I might even be doubtful for the second game against Mexico,' Moran said. 'The recovery time is unpredictable.'

With Cascarino struggling to overcome a calf strain, Jack Charlton, the Republic's manager, has to choose between the 35-year-old John Aldridge and his former Tranmere Rovers partner, Tommy Coyne of Motherwell, if he persists with his lone-striker strategy. Kelly, the Wolves forward who was not expected to make the starting line-up, is out with a back injury.

Yesterday, the rest of the squad played a full-scale practice match against a team from Rawlings College, in Orlando, supplemented by the former Manchester United winger, Gordon Hill, who now lives in Florida, and Ireland's reserve goalkeeper, Alan Kelly.

Two games, two defeats and no goals was the end result of Northern Ireland's trip to the States to provide warm-up opposition for a pair of World Cup finalists.

After losing 2-0 to Colombia the previous weekend, Bryan Hamilton's men were beaten 3-0 by Mexico in Miami on Saturday. Luis Garcia, the Atletico Madrid striker, scored twice in the first half and Carlos Hermosillo added the third after the break.

MEXICO: Campos (UNAM); Ambriz (Necaxa), Gutierrez (Atlante), J Ramirez (UNAM), R Ramirez (Santos Torreon), Suarez (UNAM), Bernal (Toluca), Olmo (Veracruz), Alves (America), L Garcia (Atletico Madrid), Sanchez (Logrones). Substitutes: Galindo (CD Guadalajara) for L Garcia, 47; Hermosillo (Cruz Azul), for Sanchez, 69.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Fettis (Hull City); Fleming (Barnsley), Worthington (Sheffield Wednesday), Taggart (Barnsley), Donaghy (Cheslea), Magilton (Oxford), Hughes (Strasbourg), Wilson (Notts County), Quinn (Reading), O'Boyle (Dunfermline), Lomas (Manchester City). Substitutes: Wright (Nottingham Forest) for Fettis, h-t; Lennon (Crewe) for Wilson, h-t; Dowie (Southampton) for Quinn, h-t; Patterson (Crystal Palace) for Magilton, h-t; Morrow (Arsenal) for Fleming, 74.

Andy Walker, offloaded by Celtic to Bolton Wanderers two and a half years ago, will return to Parkhead today as the club's first major recruit since the changes in ownership and management last season. Sold by Liam Brady for pounds 160,000, the 29-year-old striker is likely to cost Lou Macari at least pounds 500,000 to buy back.

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