McCarthy confident Irish will travel for play-off

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The Independent Football

Mick McCarthy, the Republic of Ireland manager, anticipates no problems when he calls on his team to accompany him to the Middle East next month in search of a place in the World Cup finals.

McCarthy was due to fly to Tehran today to watch Iran and the United Arab Emirates in the first leg of their Asian qualifying play-off tomorrow. Ireland will know the identity of their opponents after the second leg on 31 October.

Ireland have been drawn to play their first leg at Lansdowne Road on 10 November, with the return trip five days later.

McCarthy says he has taken expert advice in the light of the instability in the Middle East and he is confident he is not being reckless with his own or his players' safety.

"I will pick the team and the squad and I will expect the players to come and travel," said McCarthy. "I would not ask anybody to come out and do anything I would not do.

"If somebody says they are not coming there is nothing we can do about it. But I do not envisage a problem," he said.

Striker Clinton Morrison insists he will travel if selected. Morrison, who has played a key part in Crystal Palace's rise to the top of the First Division, said: "I would be a little bit scared to go, but I definitely want to be there."

A trip to either Tehran or Abu Dhabi would require tight security. Morrison insists the Ireland squad have not yet discussed the trip but felt they would "probably decide the next time we all meet up".

The 22-year-old sees this match as a chance to impress McCarthy after scoring a goal in his only appearance for the senior side in a friendly against Croatia in August.

That set the ball rolling for Morrison, who has since scored 11 times for Palace. "I would go definitely, it would be a great chance for me to maybe become part of the team," he said.

Morrison is sure the tie will not be as easy as predicted when Ireland avoided stronger play-off contenders.

"There are some tough European sides left but we managed to be drawn against one of the Asian teams, but it won't be easy. Not much football gets played in these games and it's more about luck at this stage really."

Meanwhile, the Iranians failed with their appeal to Fifa that Bahrain, who beat them 3-1 on Sunday, had fielded ineligible players against them. That confirmed that Saudi Arabia had qualified automatically and would not face the Irish in a two-legged play-off.

A statement from the world governing body said: "Following up on a complaint submitted by the Iranian Football Federation, according to which Bahrain allegedly fielded ineligible players in World Cup qualifying matches of the Asian second round.

"Fifa checked the official documents pertaining to these matches of Group A and found that all Bahrain players engaged in these matches were eligible to compete."

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