Injury halts Kilbane run
Kevin Kilbane has wished the Republic of Ireland the best of luck as he sits out his first competitive game since 1999.
By Jamie Casey
Last Updated: 02/09/11 2:11pm
Kevin Kilbane has wished the Republic of Ireland the best of luck as he sits out his first competitive international since November 1999.
The remarkable run brings to an end 66 consecutive competitive appearances for the Republic, who welcome Slovakia to Dublin in a crucial European Championship qualifier on Friday.
A back injury means Kilbane will also miss Tuesday's equally-important trip to Russia, with Wolves full-back Stephen Ward handed the task of filling his boots at left-back.
Kilbane, who adopted the country through Irish parentage, has turned out 110 times for the Republic, and admits missing the double header hurts more than losing a unique record.
"The run was always going to come to an end at some point, and 66 isn't bad," Kilbane, who is on loan at Derby from Hull, told the Irish Daily Mail.
"But it's not the record which is really disappointing me. These are two massive matches for Ireland and I desperately wanted to play and be there for my country."
Ward, 26, will make only his fifth appearance for The Boys in Green, and Kilbane has reason to believe he is up to the job.
"I am just sorry I won't be part of it tonight, but I genuinely wish Stephen Ward all the best," said the converted full-back, who originally turned out on the left of midfield.
"He has been producing consistently for Wolves for the last couple of years and really deserves his chance. I hope it goes really well for him, I have absolutely no doubt he will perform.
"And if the manager still wants to pick me to play for Ireland, I am still available."
Kilbane, 34, was first selected by Mick McCarthy in 1997, but has since played under caretaker Don Givens, Brian Kerr, Steve Staunton and current coach Giovanni Trapattoni, for which he is extremely grateful.
"Obviously I am very proud of the record," he added. "I feel thankful and proud that I have played so many games for my country and grateful that managers have continued to pick me."