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STEO ON IRISH CALL

Posted on 25 February 2006  - 12:00

Stephen Kelly is thrilled he is to be in at the beginning of a new era for the Republic of Ireland national team.

Stephen Kelly is thrilled he is to be in at the beginning of a new era for the Republic of Ireland national team.

The full-back has been named in the squad for next week's friendly encounter with Sweden, a match which will mark new manager Steve Staunton's first game in charge following his appointment along with advisor Sir Bobby Robson.

"I was delighted, I got a call from my girlfriend to say she had seen on TV that I was in the squad - it was like a dream come true," said Stephen, who had an inkling that he might be involved, but couldn't be sure.

"I knew there was a squad being named, but you don't get your hopes up over being in it. You want to be but I couldn't get too over excited about it. I am over the moon now.

"THERE IS A NEW MANAGER AND IT IS HIS FIRST SQUAD, BEING IN IT IS KIND OF SAYING SOMETHING FOR YOU, THAT YOU ARE IN HIS PLANS.

"Then, as long as you do well with your club, you should remain there or thereabouts I think," he continued, before agreeing that his versatility could work in his favour, while the possible retirement of Stephen Carr from international football could remove one runner for the right-back slot.

"I have proven I can play left or right back, plus I have spent quite a lot of time playing centre back too. Anywhere across the back suits me and it is good for me that the manager will know I can do a job if needed.

"Carry possibly retiring opens it up a bit and Steve Finnan will be the main contender. I think Finnan and Carr have been the best right-backs in the league over the last five years or so. Finnan is a top player and it will be hard to shift him, but with friendly games coming up I might get the chance to show what I can do at right back and prove myself.

"He will be the No.1 choice but I will be knocking on the door."