Irish eleven yet to be finalised

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Giovanni Trapattoni, the Ireland manager, urged his team to stay calm in tonight's World Cup play-off first leg against France at Croke Park, comparing the tie to a Champions League or World Cup final.

Trapattoni said yesterday he would finalise his selection before kick-off, deciding whether Liam Lawrence or Aiden McGeady would start on the right wing in a side otherwise unchanged from the team that were minutes from beating Italy last month.

"We will have to avoid nervousness because this is an important game," the Italian. "We have to continue to play as we have done until now. Only with this mentality we can play a balanced game against France."

Confirming that Fulham's Damien Duff had shaken off an Achilles injury to start on the left, Trapattoni is expected to retain Lawrence on the other flank after the Stoke City player set up the opening goal in last month's 2-2 draw at home to Italy.

McGeady, of Celtic, started most of Ireland's unbeaten qualifying campaign but Lawrence's superior set-pieces better compliment Trapattoni's conservative style. "I only have one doubt. One [McGeady] is fast and one [Lawrence] plays with different qualities," Trapattoni said.

France, who will be without injured midfielder Franck Ribéry, host the second leg in Paris on Wednesday. Ireland drew 0-0 the last time they were in Paris in a World Cup qualifier five years ago while France won the corresponding fixture 1-0 in Dublin. "I saw the games in Dublin and Paris... this match will be a new opportunity," Trapattoni said. "We also have new players now. We can make the difference."

Robbie Keane, the Ireland captain, echoed his manager's sentiments. "The importance of the game and what's at the end of it is massive for everyone," he said. "There are players who have never been in this situation before, players who play in the Championship who may never have the opportunity they have now. Hopefully they will, but possibly never again. It's important we enjoy the occasion, but it's more important that we do ourselves justice."

Rep of Ireland v France: Probable line-ups

Republic of Ireland

GK S Given (Man City)

RB J O'Shea (Man Utd)

CB R Dunne (A Villa)

CB S St Ledger (M'bro)

LB K Kilbane (Hull)

RM L Lawrence (Stoke)

CM G Whelan (Stoke)

CM K Andrews (Bl'brn)

LM D Duff (Fulham)

S R Keane (Spurs, c)

S K Doyle (Wolves)

Substitutes: J Murphy, S Kelly, P McShane, A McGeady, D Gibson, S Hunt, L Miller, L Best, A Stokes, S Long


GK H Lloris (Lyons)

RB B Sagna (Arsenal)

CB W Gallas (Arsenal)

CB Abidal (Barça)

LB P Evra (Man Utd)

RM S Govou (Lyons)

CM L Diarra (R Madrid)

CM A Diarra (Bord)

LM Y Gourcuff (Bord)

S T Henry (Barça, c)

S N Anelka (Chelsea)

Substitutes: S Mandanda, S Squillaci, J Toulalan , F Malouda, A Diaby, A-P Gignac, K Benzema, L Remy

Referee: F Brych (Ger) Kick-off: 20.00 TV: SS1