Sunderland defender O’Shea starts for Ireland

John O'Shea
John O'Shea
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JOHN O’SHEA will return from injury tonight to ensure the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2012 qualification. The Sunderland defender has been on the sidelines for two and a half weeks after suffering a recurrence of his hamstring problem in last month’s Stadium of Light clash with Aston Villa.

O’Shea missed Sunderland’s trip to former club Manchester United together with Ireland’s comprehensive 4-0 victory over Estonia in the first leg of their European Championship play-off.

But the 30-year-old is fit ahead of schedule and replaces injured full-back Stephen Kelly in tonight’s second leg in Dublin.

Black Cats boss Steve Bruce will be delighted at the brief length of O’Shea’s lay-off after fearing the defender would be ruled out of Saturday’s visit of Fulham.

If O’Shea can prove his fitness tonight, it will leave Bruce with a dilemma over whether to hand the Irishman an instant recall against the Cottagers or stick with Phil Bardsley, who returned to the side at Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, Sunderland winger Ahmed Elmohamady could not prevent Egypt losing 2-0 to Brazil in yesterday’s friendly in Qatar.

In the first game under new boss Bob Bradley, Egypt were well beaten.

Elmohamady went closest to a goal for the Pharoahs when he let fly with a rising shot that Brazil keeper Diego Alves parried behind for a corner.