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Wednesday 23 August 2017

Doyle boost as Irish move up in the world

Ireland

IRELAND have moved up one place in the FIFA World Rankings without kicking a ball, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.

Martin O'Neill's outfit are up one placeto 66th, in the latest rankings which were published earlier today, and the upward move was a minor confidence-booster for O'Neill ahead of the vital Euro 2016 qualifier with Poland later this month as the Irish side had been on a downward slide in the rankings and were perilously close to their all-time low position of 70.

Euro rivals Poland are way ahead in 34th place, above Wales (37), Scotland (39) and Northern Ireland (43). Germany top the rankings, ahead of Argentina, Colombia and Belgium.

Meanwhile, Kevin Doyle (above) is likely to get more game time with Wolves in their push for promotion.

The Wexford man, who was earlier today named in the provisional 34-man squad for the Poland game, has come back into the fold with Wolves in recent weeks and boss Kenny Jackett plans to use all of his strikers, including Doyle.

"I think it's a case of using the right one at the right stage of the game - there's certainly a time when Dicko and Afobe need a physical complement up there," said Jackett.

"Doyle's maybe come into that role where the ball's gone from back to front in a game and you have an experienced forward that can hold the ball up, maybe get a free-kick and certainly win a header and be in the right place at the right time physically against the centre-half.

"I felt against Watford we needed his strength and his play with his back to goal holding the ball up, as it was going back to front for us at the time, and he's got some heading ability." Doyle was last capped against Gibraltar in October.

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