Fit again Duff wins recall into Ireland squad
Damien Duff today made his long-awaited return to the Republic of Ireland squad for next month's prestigious friendly with Brazil.
The Newcastle winger has not pulled on a green jersey since a 1-0 win over Slovakia 10 months ago due to a serious foot injury which almost ended his career.
But the 28-year-old has been included in a 21-man squad named by caretaker manager Don Givens, with the Football Association of Ireland still to find a replacement for the axed Steve Staunton.
Givens was delighted to be able to recall Duff to the squad and said: 'The return of Damien is a boost.
'There is no doubt he was sorely missed during the final stages of the Euro 2008 campaign.'
Bolton defender Andy O'Brien and Blackburn midfielder Steven Reid return, with the prospect of making their first appearances for some time.
The duo were included in the squad for the final qualifying match away to Wales last November, but were forced to withdraw.
O'Brien last played for Ireland in the 5-2 defeat to Cyprus in October 2006, while Reid's last appearance due to a series of injuries came a month previously in a 1-0 loss to Germany.
Givens has also been able to name Reading striker Shane Long in the party after he missed the game with Wales through suspension.
Although Ireland remain without a manager, as far as Givens is concerned the clash with Brazil starts the countdown towards the 2010 World Cup qualifying programme that begins in September.
'Everybody is starting to focus on the start of that campaign,' added Givens.
'It is great to start our preparations for that with this game against Brazil which should be a fabulous evening at Croke Park.'
• Republic of Ireland squad for friendly with Brazil at Croke Park on February 6, 2008: Given (Newcastle), Murphy (Scunthorpe), Doyle (Birmingham); Kelly (Birmingham), O'Shea (Man Utd), A O'Brien (Bolton), J O'Brien (Bolton), Kilbane (Wigan), Dunne (Man City), McShane (Sunderland); Carsley (Everton), A Reid (Charlton), S Reid (Blackburn), McGeady (Celtic), Hunt (Reading), Miller (Sunderland), Duff (Newcastle); Keane (Tottenham), Doyle (Reading), Long (Reading), Murphy (Sunderland)