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will is keane Stephen Kenny turns to another striker as he names his squad for crucial qualifiers


Ireland manager Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Wigan striker Will Keane has been given his first call-up for the Republic of Ireland for their matches against Azerbaijan and Qatar next month.

The 28-year-old, the twin brother of England and Everton defender Michael, represented England up to under-20 level but declared his intention to play for the Republic in February 2019.

He qualifies for Ireland through his father and, with Stephen Kenny’s side desperate for goals, Keane has now been given his chance.

Kenny said: “Will has had a consistent run of games this year, he’s probably having one of his best seasons, and we’ve managed to see quite a bit of him.

“He links the play well. He leads the line quite well, he has an appreciation of players around him, good weight of pass and good vision, and he can score headed goals and different types of goals.

“He’s a good option for us and we’re looking forward to getting him in this week and working with him at close quarters.”

There is no place, though, for in-form Lincoln forward Anthony Scully, who has scored 10 goals this season.

Kenny highlighted Scully and Peterborough midfielder Jack Taylor, saying of the latter: “He’s having an excellent time and he was very close to being involved. Obviously Anthony Scully is scoring goals at Lincoln so players like that are emerging and hopefully they can continue to do well.”

Sheffield United full-back Enda Stevens, Derby midfielder Jason Knight and Rotherham winger Chiedozie Ogbene all return to the squad after injury ruled them out of September’s international fixtures.

Captain Seamus Coleman and defender Dara O’Shea, though, are both ruled out through injury.

Teenage Norwich defender Andrew Omobamidele, who made his debut against Portugal, keeps his place but keeper Darren Randolph is left out again.

The Republic, who have picked up only two points from their five qualifying matches so far, take on Azerbaijan in Baku on October 9 before meeting Qatar three days later in Dublin.

Kenny is yet to win a competitive game, and he said: “The last window was very intensive, three games in six days, very tough physically against Portugal, obviously losing in the 96th minute, Azerbaijan and Serbia games.

“I thought they were three very exciting games but we obviously want to turn a number of the draws we’ve had into wins, and we should have done that and we haven’t, so we just need to find a way of doing that now. We all want to improve our results and hopefully we can do that in this window.”

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Republic of Ireland Squad v Azerbaijan / v Qatar

Goalkeepers: Gavin Bazunu (Portsmouth, on loan from Manchester City), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth).

Defenders: Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion), John Egan (Sheffield United), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Ryan Manning (Swansea City), James McClean (Wigan Athletic), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich City), Nathan Collins (Burnley).

Midfielders: Josh Cullen (Anderlecht), Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Harry Arter (Charlton), Jamie McGrath (St. Mirren), Jason Knight (Derby County).

Attackers: Callum Robinson (West Bromwich Albion), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), James Collins (Cardiff City), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe Wanderers), Adam Idah (Norwich City), Troy Parrott (MK Dons, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Will Keane (Wigan Athletic), Chiedozie Ogbene (Rotherham United).

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