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Real escape with hope of progress

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By ESPN Staff

Stoke's Lawrence called up to Ireland squad

Liam Lawrence has been called up to the Republic of Ireland squad to face Nigeria later this month.

The uncapped Stoke midfielder has been included in a 25-man party for the friendly clash with Nigeria at Craven Cottage on Friday, May 29th. The squad will then be trimmed for 22 of them to fly out to Sofia for the World Cup Group Eight qualifier against Bulgaria the following weekend.

Preston duo Sean St Ledger and Eddie Nolan have been rewarded for their fine form this season with places in the squad.

Uncapped Coventry striker Leon Best has also been called by Republic coach Giovanni Trapattoni.

Reading striker Kevin Doyle is included despite doubts over his fitness because of an Achilles problem.

Alex Bruce, Damien Delaney, Steve Finnan, Darren O'Dea and Noel Hunt are all missing from the players initially named for the last two qualifiers against Bulgaria and Italy.

Trapattoni believes Nigeria will provide the perfect opposition ahead of the clash with Bulgaria.

"Preparations for the game against Nigeria on May 29th will allow us to see some new players who have distinguished themselves during the course of the last season and also to welcome back players like Caleb Folan and Kevin Foley," said Trapattoni.

"Nigeria is a powerhouse of African football, with many strong and fast players who are playing for top clubs in England and Europe. They will provide a challenging test before the very important World Cup Qualfier in Bulgaria on June 6th."

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