DAVID Meyler has extended Sunderland’s quota in the Republic of Ireland squad to four after being called up for Friday’s World Cup qualification opener, writes CHRIS YOUNG.
Midfielder Meyler, who played almost an hour for Sunderland after replacing Lee Cattermole in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Swansea, was named as a surprise replacement for Everton’s Darron Gibson by Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni over the weekend.
The 23-year-old had been pencilled into the senior Ireland squad before suffering the first of two cruciate knee ligament injuries in May 2010.
But with Gibson disillusioned at Trapattoni and withdrawing from the squad after not even making the bench during Euro 2012, Cork-born Meyler has joined Sunderland team-mates John O’Shea, James McClean and Keiren Westwood in the party.
The Black Cats’ quartet reported for international duty yesterday ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan and the international friendly against Oman next Monday.
Meyler tweeted: “So happy to be called into the Irish squad. Biggest moment of my career.”
Trapattoni also hinted that McClean is likely to start against Kazakhstan, in an unfamiliar role in the hole behind the two strikers.
The left-winger is yet to make a competitive start for Ireland, after making just one substitute appearance during the summer’s European Championships.
But, after experimenting in last month’s friendly stalemate with Serbia, Trapattoni is now ready to hand McClean an opportunity in Astana on Friday night.
Trapattoni said: “Maybe in Kazakhstan, McClean will play up with the two strikers. That is not a problem for him. We have also other players who can play in that position.
“The position is different (to where he usually plays), but he can also play there.
“We will wait and see what the condition of the other players is but he could play there.”