Rep of Ireland v Slovakia preview
Trapattoni faces biggest week yet as Ireland host group leaders
By Ben Collins. Last Updated: September 2, 2011 12:24pm
Doyle: Long injury has handed the Wolves striker a recall
The Republic of Ireland host Slovakia on Friday in the first of two games which could determine their Euro 2012 qualifying fate.
With six games gone, the Republic are still very much in the hunt as they are joint-leaders of Group B with Slovakia and Russia with 13 points.
Their head-to-head records currently put Slovakia top, with the Republic third having lost 3-2 at home to Russia last October before drawing 1-1 in Slovakia four days later.
But positive results at Dublin's Aviva Stadium on Friday, live on Sky Sports HD3, and in Tuesday's game in Russia could put the Republic in pole position with just two qualifiers remaining.
The Irish have failed to reach a major tournament since the 2002 World Cup, controversially denied a place at last summer's World Cup at the hands of Thierry Henry.
Coach Giovanni Trapattoni, who took charge in 2008, had already signed an extension to the end of Ireland's 2012 campaign so this coming week could be the most important of his tenure.
Kilbane, Long out
The Italian named his starting line-up on Thursday and for the first time since November 1999, Kevin Kilbane will miss a competitive international.
The 110-cap veteran has succumbed to a back injury so Wolves' Stephen Ward will take his place at left-back.
Shane Long got the nod ahead of ex-Reading team-mate Kevin Doyle but has since been left out due to a slight calf injury. The new West Brom striker could still travel to Russia, though.
Doyle therefore comes in to partner record marksman Robbie Keane, who insists he is fit to play after flying back following his goalscoring debut for LA Galaxy.
Doyle scored the only goal as the Republic beat Slovakia on their only previous visit to Ireland in March 2007.
Shay Given will win his 115th cap in goal while Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger return in defence after missing the 2-0 win in Macedonia in June. Damien Duff returns on the wing in place of Stephen Hunt.
Republic of Ireland: Given, O'Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Ward, Duff, Andrews, Whelan, McGeady, Keane, Doyle.
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European Championship Qualifying
Fri 2nd Sep - Group F
Israel0 - 1Greece
Malta1 - 3Croatia
Georgia0 - 1Latvia
Fri 2nd Sep - Group I
Lithuania0 - 0Liechtenstein
Fri 2nd Sep - Group E
Finland4 - 1Moldova
Hungary2 - 1Sweden
Netherlands11 - 0San Marino
Fri 2nd Sep - Group B
Andorra0 - 3Armenia
Russia1 - 0Macedonia
Rep Ireland0 - 0Slovakia
Fri 2nd Sep - Group A
Azerbaijan1 - 1Belgium
Turkey2 - 1Kazakhstan
Germany6 - 2Austria
Fri 2nd Sep - Group D
Belarus0 - 2Bosnia
Luxembourg0 - 2Romania
Albania1 - 2France
Fri 2nd Sep - Group H
Norway1 - 0Iceland
Cyprus0 - 4Portugal
Fri 2nd Sep - Group G
Bulgaria0 - 3England
Wales2 - 1Montenegro
Fri 2nd Sep - Group C
N Ireland0 - 1Serbia
Faroe Islands0 - 1Italy
Slovenia1 - 2Estonia
European Championship Qualifying Group A
European Championship Qualifying Group B
|2||Republic of Ireland||10||21|
European Championship Qualifying Group C
European Championship Qualifying Group D
European Championship Qualifying Group E
European Championship Qualifying Group F
European Championship Qualifying Group G
European Championship Qualifying Group H
European Championship Qualifying Group I