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Holland to skipper the Irish

PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

MATT Holland will captain the Republic of Ireland in their friendly international against Scotland tonight.

The Blues skipper will lead his country out for the first time tonight at Hampden Park as Brian Kerr makes his debut in charge of the Irish.

MATT Holland will captain the Republic of Ireland in their friendly international against Scotland tonight.

The Blues skipper will lead his country out for the first time tonight at Hampden Park as Brian Kerr makes his debut in charge of the Irish.

The announcement will be made official later today but I understand Holland was told about the honour last night before the senior side went to watch the under-21s play in Scotland.

It is a fantastic honour for Holland, who was born in Bury, Lancashire, but qualifies to play for the Republic due to a maternal grandmother.

With Kenny Cunningham, the last man to wear the skipper's armband under Mick McCarthy, injured, Kerr has turned to Holland to be his first captain.

Honoured Holland joins Finidi George, Hermann Hreidarsson and Jim Magilton as current Ipswich Town players who have captained their country.

Earlier in the day Holland had played in both defence and midfield during a practice session at Hampden Park.

He said: "I played one half at the back and the other in midfield. Hopefully I will play and I don't really mind where just as long as I'm involved. Obviously I would prefer to play in midfield."

Holland will win his 28th cap for the Irish tonight in a game which should end the spectre of Roy Keane, who last night announced his retirement from international football due to a long standing hip problem.

Holland has clearly impressed his new international boss and is looking forward to playing in his first game under the former Republic of Ireland youth team manager.

He said: "It has been a turbulent six months for us but now Brian has come in and he has settled in quickly.

"It is good to get this game and we will then look forward to trying to qualify, which we still believe we can do."

But the Town star, who will make his 300th appearance for Ipswich against Wolves next Wednesday, admits the events at Portman Road since Monday's announcement that the club has gone into a period of administration have played on his mind.

He added: "It is difficult to concentrate fully because I'm a bit out of touch.

"I have spoken to the chairman and he has been helpful and I will see him again on Friday."

Kerr is hoping to recover team morale lost by defeats to Switzerland and Russia and Irish hopes of qualifying for the European Championships remains in the balance as they face vital matches with Georgia and Albania.

A STRONG Ipswich Town reserve side take on Arsenal at Portman Road tonight (kick-off 7pm).

A new-look Martijn Reuser has been named in the side along with fit again John McGreal and Finidi George.

Ipswich Town: Pullen, Beevers, Richards, Bloomfield, Naylor, McGreal, Abidallah, Westlake, Armstrong, George, Reuser, Bowditch, Peat, Hogg, Morrow and Murray.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk


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