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DELIGHT FOR KELLY

Posted on 24 February 2006  - 12:00

Chris Hughton has expressed his delight for Stephen Kelly after he was named in Steve Staunton's first Republic of Ireland squad.

Chris Hughton has expressed his delight for Stephen Kelly after he was named in Steve Staunton's first Republic of Ireland squad.

The Republic's new boss Staunton selected the young defender for the friendly against Sweden at Lansdowne Road on Wednesday.

'Steo', the Under-21 international captain, was named in squads before under the management of Brian Kerr and his assistant Chris but never made it onto the pitch for a first cap.

That was in large part down to the quality Ireland had in Steo's favoured right-back position - former Spur Stephen Carr and Liverpool's Steve Finnan.

Finnan is in fine form for the Reds but Carr has retired from international football and with a space opened up, Steo has made it into that first squad.

Chris explained: "Steo has been in squads before but I'd have to say it's an area we've always been quite strong in with the likes of Stephen Carr and Steve Finnan and when Brian and myself perhaps had a problem, we then brought Steo in.

"I'm pleased for him because there are no injuries in that position and there is another player at another club playing regularly so for Steo to be included in the squad with that amount of quality around is fantastic.

"It shows how far he's come and how well he's thought of not just by us but the Irish set up. It's certainly a big boost for him.

"I'm sure he will be wanting and wishing to play more games here, so that would have been disappoining for him and this will come as a real lift."