Kewell and the Gang – Socceroos roll into town

by Neil Sherwin

Iraq v Australia - World Cup QualifierLimerick’s Thomond Park welcomes Australia on Wednesday night as Ireland prepare themselves for a crucial World Cup qualifier away to Cyprus on September 5.

The Socceroos have already secured their place in next summer’s finals in South Africa after coming through their Asian qualifying campaign undefeated.

Glasgow Celtic striker Scott McDonald is expected to lead the line on his own  in the absence of regular strike partner Josh Kennedy who is absent due to club commitments in Japan. However, dangerman Tim Cahill will provide plenty of support, along with skipper Harry Kewell and Mark Bresciano.

Amongst the other big names involved for the green and gold are West Ham’s Lucas Neill and Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer.

Youngster Nikita Rukavytsya will be one to keep an eye on. Following some superb performances for Perth Glory in the A-League, the 22 year old Ukrainia-born striker sealed a move to FC Twente in Holland where he is honing his skills under the watchful eye of former England boss Steve McClaren.

Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland, meanwhile, are expected to name a full strength side after striker Kevin Doyle was cleared to play following a recent hernia operation that has disrupted his preseason campaign with Wolves.

“[Wolves manager] Mick McCarthy threw us a dummy last week when he told me to tell the manager Kevin wouldn’t be coming over because he’d picked up a little infection in the wound after the operation,” said Trapattoni’s assistant Liam Brady.

“But he rang me again on Saturday to say Kevin would be playing a half-hour in a friendly that day and therefore he can have 45 minutes with us”

Coventry City’s Leon Best is the only doubt at the moment with a foot injury.

Following the trip to Cyrpus next month, Ireland will host South Africa in a friendly, again at Thomond Park, before a double header against Italy and Montenegro to round off Group 8 qualifying.

Republic of Ireland squad: Shay Given, Kieren Westwood, Joe Murphy; John O’Shea, Kevin Foley, Richard Dunne, Stephen Kelly, Kevin Kilbane, Eddie Nolan, Sean St Ledger; Aiden McGeady, Damien Duff, Darron Gibson, Glenn Whelan, Keith Andrews, Liam Miller, Stephen Hunt; Andy Keogh, Liam Lawrence, Caleb Folan, Kevin Doyle, Robbie Keane, Shane Long, Leon Best.

Australia squad: Mark Schwarzer, Ante Covic; Patrick Kisnorbo, Lucas Neill, Rhys Williams, Jade North, Matthew Spiranovic, Adrian Madaschi, Luke Wilkshire; Mark Bresciano, James Holland, Dario Vidosic, Tim Cahill, Nick Carle, Aaron Mooy, Harry Kewell, Oliver Bozanic, David Carney, Mile Jedinak, Danny Invincible; Scott McDonald, Brett Holman, Nikita Rukavytsya.

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