Given return a welcome boost for Staunton

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The Independent Football

Shay Given has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad for the Euro 2008 qualifying game against San Marino in Dublin next week.

The Newcastle United goalkeeper missed last month's back-to-back fixtures against Cyprus and the Czech Republic because of a serious stomach injury.

But he has been named in Steve Staunton's squad for next Wednesday's group D match at Lansdowne Road, alongside his Magpies team-mate Stephen Carr - who missed out on the last two games because of a hamstring problem.

The Manchester City defender Richard Dunne returns from suspension, while Andy O'Brien (Portsmouth), Aiden McGeady (Celtic), Stephen Ireland (Manchester City), Kevin Doyle (Reading) and Sunderland's Stephen Elliott are all in the squad after missing out on the draw with the Czechs.

Staunton said: "It is good to have so many of the players who missed the game against the Czech Republic back. But the young players who played so well that night have ensured that I will have serious choices to make when it comes to selecting the team."

The match will be Ireland's final game at Lansdowne Road prior to their move to Croke Park - and Staunton hopes it will be a night to remember.

"This will be a special game for us," he said. "I know our fans will generate the same fantastic atmosphere and superb support that they delivered in the last game so it should be a night to remember."

Staunton is also looking forward to the Tuesday night's B international friendly against Scotland.

The B team manager, Pat Devlin, has named a 21-man squad for that game - including Cardiff City's Stephen McPhail and Newcastle's Alan O'Brien, who have won senior caps.

Seventeen of the squad are products of the international under-age system but Lewis Emmanuel (Luton Town), Lee Frecklington (Lincoln City) and Sean St Ledger (Preston North End) have yet to be capped at any level for Ireland. The B squad includes four players - Kevin Deery (Derry City), Joe Gamble and Roy O'Donovan (Cork City) and Stephen Ward (Bohemians) - from the Irish League.

The Russia coach, Guus Hiddink, has called up a quartet of uncapped youngsters - and dropped the long-time captain, the ex-Chelsea midfielder Alexei Smertin - after naming his squad to face Macedonia in Skopje on 15 November.

The Spartak Moscow duo, Roman Shishkin and Dmitri Torbinsky, the CSKA Moscow defender Ivan Taranov and Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Igor Denisov have all been included in the senior squad for the first time. But there is no place for Denisov's Zenit team-mate AleXander Kerzhakov and Smertin has also been overlooked.

CSKA Moscow's Sergei Ignashevich is included in the party despite picking up an injury in the weekend match with Zenit. The centre-back, a key figure in Hiddink's defence, is definitely out of the Army side's game with Krylya Sovetov Samara tonight and it is not yet clear whether he will be fit to face Macedonia.

South Africa plans to expand its police force by some 35,000 in preparation for the 2010 World Cup, conscious that high levels of crime could deter fans. The country will also train additional railway police, with 5,000 new officers set to be deployed on the rail network starting next year, the tourism minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said on a visit to London.

Critics have questioned whether South Africa can provide stadiums and hotels for the nearly 500,000 foreigners and some three million locals expected at the event and protect them from the country's high levels of violent crime.