McCarthy omits Kennedy and Babb

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The Independent Football

Mark Kennedy and Phil Babb are missing from the Republic of Ireland squad for the forthcoming World Cup Group Two qualifying games against Portugal in Lisbon's Stadium of Light on 7 October and then the visit of Estonia to Lansdowne Road four days later.

Mark Kennedy and Phil Babb are missing from the Republic of Ireland squad for the forthcoming World Cup Group Two qualifying games against Portugal in Lisbon's Stadium of Light on 7 October and then the visit of Estonia to Lansdowne Road four days later.

The Manchester City winger Kennedy and the Sporting Lisbon defender Babb were both sent home in disgrace prior to the game with the Netherlands on 2 September.

They were arrested and appeared in court after incidents in a Dublin street in the early hours of the morning in the build-up to the Amsterdam game.

Kennedy and Babb are currently on bail and the Football Association of Ireland will put their international careers on hold until after the next scheduled court appearance in Dublin on 13 November.

The midfielders Matt Holland (Ipswich Town) and Lee Carsley (Blackburn Rovers) and utility man Rory Delap (Derby County) are all recalled to the squad. The trio were ruled out of the 2-2 draw with the Netherlands because of injuries.

The Republic Of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy, keeps faith with most of the 22-man squad on duty in Amsterdam. The Wimbledon defender Kenny Cunningham, currently recovering from an operation on a groin injury during the close season, was not considered as he has yet to play a first-team game this season. Middlesbrough's Curtis Fleming and Stoke City's Graham Kavanagh, who were given late call-ups for the Dutch game after the sudden departures of Kennedy and Babb, are omitted.

McCarthy seems certain to again start with Coventry City's Gary Breen and Everton's Richard Dunne in the centre of defence.

"Both lads played very well against the Dutch and eliminated the threat of Patrick Kluivert," he said. "They fully deserve to keep their places in the squad."

The Republic will enjoy the support of 12,000 travelling fans in Lisbon for a game that is already guaranteed a 70,000 sell-out. Portugal, like Holland, were beaten semi-finalists in the European Championship finals during the summer. Captained by Real Madrid's Luis Figo, they will be determined to keep their 100 per cent record after starting their qualifying campaign with a 3-1 victory over Estonia in Tallinn.

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