No Given or Ireland returns for Republic

Shay Given and Stephen Ireland will not return to the Republic of Ireland squad to face Serbia, despite talks with boss Martin O'Neill.

Goalkeeper Given - on loan at Middlesbrough from Aston Villa - retired from the international scene after UEFA Euro 2012, but has been touted for a return, while Stoke City midfielder Ireland has not featured since he controversially withdrew from the squad to face Czech Republic in September 2007.

O'Neill has spoken to the pair and is planning to meet Ireland in person in the near future, though neither has been named in the provisional 29-man squad - the first O'Neill has chosen as manager - for the friendly encounter with Serbia at the Aviva Stadium on March 5.

"I've spoken to Shay. I think he's enjoyed it immensely at Middlesbrough, he's playing first-team football but that loan is due to end soon," O'Neill said.

"And likewise Stephen Ireland.  I've spoken to Stephen. He hasn't had very much time playing time over the last six to seven weeks at Stoke."

Ireland's record goalscorer Robbie Keane will not be involved, as it was agreed he will remain with LA Galaxy ahead of their Major League Soccer opener on March 8.

With goalkeeper Keiren Westwood injured, David Forde is likely to be handed a start, with Darren Randolph and the uncapped Rob Elliot providing competition.

Hull City defender Paul McShane will be unavailable after he damaged ankle ligaments against Southampton last week, but QPR centre-back Richard Dunne is included.

O'Neill will trim his squad to 23 players nearer the fixture, which marks the former Celtic manager's third match in charge following a 3-0 victory over Latvia and a 0-0 draw with Poland, though O'Neill did not pick the squad for those matches.

Squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), David Forde (Millwall), Darren Randolph (Birmingham City)

Defenders: Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa),  Seamus Coleman (Everton), Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace), Richard Dunne (QPR), Stephen Kelly (Reading), Richard Keogh (Derby), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce (Reading), Marc Wilson (Stoke), Stephen Ward (Brighton)

Midfielders: Paul Green (Ipswich), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), James McCarthy (Everton), James McClean (Wigan), Aiden McGeady (Everton), David Meyler (Hull), Anthony Pilkington (Norwich), Stephen Quinn (Hull), Andy Reid (Nottingham Forest), Glenn Whelan (Stoke)

Forwards: Simon Cox (Nottingham Forest), Kevin Doyle (QPR), Shane Long (Hull), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich), Anthony Stokes (Celtic), Jon Walters (Stoke)


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i have to say i am a bit disappointed that there is no sign of Stephen Ireland returning to the Ireland setup. I really do believe that he has some unfinished business for Ireland and could make the difference for the tough group that we now have for the European Championships. It is clear the see that the guy has talent and that we need to have him back in the side..... http://www.pulpinterest.com/sport/stephen-ireland-can-still-major-force-...