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Hogan, O’Brien win first Ireland call-ups for qualifiers

Dublin (AFP) – Aston Villa’s Scott Hogan and Millwall’s Aiden O’Brien received their first call-ups by the Republic of Ireland ahead of their decisive World Cup qualifiers.

Martin O’Neill’s side face Moldova and Wales in their last two Group D games next month as they look to keep their hopes of reaching Russia next year alive.

The Republic are third in the table, a point behind Wales and five behind leaders Serbia.

England-born Hogan qualifies for Ireland through his grandparents and missed out on the last squad as the striker was waiting for his documentation to come through.

The 25-year-old, who has three goals in 11 games for Villa this season, is joined by fellow newcomer O’Brien, who plays on the left wing or as a striker with second tier Millwall.

Midfielder Jeff Hendrick and forward David McGoldrick return after injury, but Greg Cunningham and Jonathan Walters miss out due to knee injuries.

Moldova come to the Aviva Stadium on September 6 before the clash with Wales in Cardiff three days later as Ireland look to at least make the play-offs.

“The Moldova game is everything to us, we have to win this game. It’ll be a nervy 90 minutes, we’ve seen this before in a game we’re hoping to win,” O’Neill said on Tuesday.

“We’re going to try to go to Wales with everything to play for so the game has become ultra important.

“You want to qualify for competitions, that’s my job. We have two games and we know if you win them you would be desperately unlucky not to be in the play-offs.”

James McClean, who scored twice in the 3-1 win in Moldova a year ago, and Robbie Brady are suspended for the return fixture but will be available to face Wales.

Republic of Ireland squad:

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Rob Elliot (Newcastle), Colin Doyle (Bradford)

Defenders: Cyrus Christie (Middlesbrough), Richard Keogh (Derby), Shane Duffy (Brighton), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Kevin Long (Burnley), Stephen Ward (Burnley)

Midfielders: Aiden McGeady (Sunderland), James McClean (West Brom), Glenn Whelan (Aston Villa), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley) Robbie Brady (Burnley), James McCarthy (Everton), David Meyler (Hull), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), Jonny Hayes (Celtic), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Daryl Horgan (Preston)

Strikers: Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest), David McGoldrick (Ipswich), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), Sean Maguire (Preston), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Aiden O’Brien (Millwall).

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