McAteer earns Irish return
By Paul Higham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Kerr will have his first taste of competitive action as he tries to improve his side's standing in Group 10 of qualifying.
The Irish lost their first two games and look a long way from Portugal but will have the chance to bolster their campaign with two games against the weaker sides in the group.
Sunderland midfielder McAteer has not represented his country since September due to injuries but is now back to full fitness and will travel to Tirana and Tblisi with the squad.
"I saw Jason McAteer play against Fulham three weeks ago and he looked very fit," said Kerr.
"It took him a while to get into the game, but he will be fit for the Georgia game and gives us good options.
"We're well covered in all positions which is important for this trip."
Richard Dunne, Stephen McPhail, Rory Delap and Mark Kennedy are all omitted from the 26-man squad that faced Scotland last month, with the likes of Gary Kelly, Robbie Keane, Damien Duff, Kenny Cunningham and Steve Finnan all return after pulling out of the last squad through injury.
Kerr was especially pleased that stars Keane and Duff should be available after long periods of injury.
"Robbie won't play this weekend, but it looks like he will play next week. That is just five days before the Georgia game which is not ideal. Chris Hughton is keeping me updated on him and Robbie is confident he will be okay. I spoke to Damien and he played a full practice match on Wednesday and is ready to go."
Full Irish squad:
Dean Kiely (Charlton Athletic), Nick Colgan (Hibernian), Shay Given (Newcastle United), Stephen Carr (Tottenham Hotspur), Gary Breen (West Ham United), Andy O'Brien (Newcastle United), Kenny Cunningham (Birmingham City), Gary Kelly (Leeds United), Steve Finnan (Fulham), John O'Shea (Manchester United), Ian Harte (Leeds United), Lee Carsley (Everton), Colin Healy (Celtic), Jason McAteer (Sunderland), Mark Kinsella (Aston Villa), Matt Holland (Ipswich Town), Steven Reid (Millwall), Damien Duff (Blackburn Rovers), Kevin Kilbane (Sunderland), Clinton Morrison (Birmingham City), Gary Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), David Connolly (Wimbledon), Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur).