Dunne on standby for Republic
Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is praying for a miracle after placing key defender Richard Dunne on standby for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Germany and the Faroe Islands.
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The 33-year-old Aston Villa man is yet to kick a ball in anger this season as he recovers from a groin injury, and the Italian admits the chances of having one of his most reliable players available to him are slim.
However, he will not give up hope as he prepares for the clash with Group C favourites Germany in Dublin on October 12 and the minnows from the Faroes in Torshavn four days later.
Trapattoni said: "As we face these important games, we will hope to build on the three points we gained in Kazakhstan.
"Our first game against Germany will be a difficult challenge and the home support will play an important part.
"We must also remember that we have two matches, and we will be focussing on every detail to pick up points on our journey to qualification for Brazil."
Dunne's absence would leave Trapattoni without three of the four men who have for so long been the foundation of his squad, with Shay Given and Damien Duff having retired from international football, leaving skipper Robbie Keane to fly the flag alone.
There were few surprises in the 23-man party Trapattoni announced in Dublin this afternoon, with midfielders Keith Andrews and Keith Fahey returning from suspension and injury respectively and Darron Gibson still missing as he nurses a thigh problem having told his international manager he is yet to recover from the disappointment of his lack of involvement at the Euro 2012 finals during the summer.
However, there is a place for Sunderland winger James McClean, whose Twitter rant in the wake of the 2-1 victory in Kazakhstan earlier this month cost him a very public dressing down.
Trapattoni indicated the matter was closed by using McClean as a substitute in the 4-1 friendly victory over Oman four days later, and his inclusion suggests any rift has been healed.
Manchester United starlet Robbie Brady, who made such an impact against the Middle East side, has, like Dunne, been placed on standby.
However, there is no place for Sunderland midfielder David Meyler, who made his senior international debut in the same game having been drafted into the squad as Gibson's replacement.
Ireland, who drastically under-achieved by their standards in Poland and Ukraine during the summer, were below par once again in Astana and needed late strikes from Keane and Kevin Doyle to rescue victory from the jaws of what would have been a costly defeat.
But the difficulty of their task will rise sharply when the Germans arrive at the Aviva Stadium.
Joachim Low's side launched their campaign with a 3-0 home victory over the Faroes, and then won 2-1 in Austria to secure their place at the top of the group.
They will host Sweden as Trapattoni's men head north and will set out intent on doubling their points tally to establish a commanding lead in the race for qualification.
Squad: Keiren Westwood (Sunderland), David Forde (Millwall), Darren Randolph (Motherwell); Marc Wilson (Stoke), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Sean St Ledger (Leicester), Darren O'Dea (Toronto), Stephen Ward (Wolves), Stephen Kelly (Fulham), Paul McShane (Hull); Glenn Whelan (Stoke), James McCarthy (Wigan), Keith Andrews (Bolton), Keith Fahey (Birmingham), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow), Andy Keogh (Millwall), James McClean (Sunderland); Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Shane Long (West Brom), Simon Cox (Nottingham Forest), Jon Walters (Stoke).