Ireland can upset odds to qualify, insists Kilbane

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The Independent Football

Kevin Kilbane believes the Republic of Ireland are ready to defy their critics and qualify again for a major championship at Euro 2008. Since playing in the World Cup in 1994, Ireland have reached the finals of just one of the last six tournaments.

"Qualifying is going to be tough, but we can qualify," the Everton midfielder said. "We should believe we are going to qualify. We've not qualified for the last two, and that's been a big disappointment, bearing in mind the players we've got.

"After the 2002 World Cup we were expecting to go on to bigger things. There will be people who think we can't go to places and get results, and that is something we have to address.

"We have to put in big performances to get big results, as we did in France in the last qualifying campaign when we held them to a goalless draw in Paris. We felt we could have won the game and, although we didn't, you have to build on experiences like that."

The manager, Steve Staunton, is without the Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny (thigh strain) and Birmingham right-back Stephen Kelly (calf strain) for Saturday's qualifying game away to Germany. The Barnsley goalkeeper Nick Colgan and Preston defender Sean St Ledger are in as cover.