Injured Duff out of Ireland qualifiers

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Newcastle United winger Damien Duff has been ruled out of Ireland's World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Italy.

Assistant manager Liam Brady confirmed on the Football Association of Ireland website that Duff had returned to his club with a thigh injury sustained during training on Wednesday.

Duff's place for the home match against Bulgaria in Dublin on Saturday will be taken by Reading's Stephen Hunt. Ireland are level on 10 points at the top of Group 8 with Italy who they face away on Wednesday.