McGrath left out of Republic squad

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The Independent Online
Paul McGrath is determined to force his way back into the Republic of Ireland squad after being left out by the manager, Mick McCarthy, when he announced a 20-man squad for Saturday's opening World Cup tie in Liechtenstein.

McGrath, 36, who won his record 82nd Irish cap against the Czech Republic in Prague last April, had been named in every party for 11 years. He blamed his exclusion on his failure to break into Aston Villa's first team this season. He said: "The fact I have been on the bench for the opening three League games hasn't helped. I need to be playing first team football.

"I accept what has happened and understand Mick's decision. But obviously the priority now is to get back as soon as possible to Villa and have a chat with Brian Little. Villa have been very good to me. They offered me a new one-year contract and I enjoyed all the pre-season games. But there's no room for me at the moment. At this stage of my career, I need first team football and would even be prepared to drop to a lower level just to keep playing."

McCarthy said: "It was a difficult decision to leave out Paul. We have been great friends for a long time and been through quite a few things together."

Also omitted are centre-backs Alan Kernaghan and Liam Daish, and full- back Gary Kelly cannot travel as he is having a scan on a knee injury picked up in Monday's 1-0 victory over Wimbledon at Elland Road.

McCarthy has included eight players who did not figure during the latter period of Jack Charlton's reign: Given, Fleming, Breen, Harte, Cunningham, Farrelly, Moore and O'Neill.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SQUAD (v Liechtenstein, Group Eight, World Cup qualifier, Eschen, Saturday): A Kelly (Sheff Utd), Given (Blackburn), Irwin (Man Utd), Babb (Liverpool), Kenna (Blackburn), Fleming (Middlesbrough), Breen (Birmingham), Harte (Leeds Utd), Cunningham (Wimbledon), Staunton, Townsend (both Aston Villa), Houghton (Crystal Palace), Farrelly (A Villa), McLoughlin (Portsmouth), McAteer (Liverpool), Moore (Middlesbrough), O'Neill (Norwich), Cascarino (Marseilles), Quinn (Sunderland), D Kelly (Sunderland).

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