Liam Lawrence will be handed a World Cup debut against reigning champions Italy on Saturday night as the Republic of Ireland attempt to keep their South African dream alive.

The 27-year-old Stoke midfielder has been drafted in on the right side of midfield in the absence of Damien Duff for the Group Eight qualifier at Croke Park.

Lawrence, who scored when winning his second senior cap against South Africa last month, will be joined in the team by defenders Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger after both shook off the injuries which have hampered them during training this week.

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