Blues ace happy to be centre of attention

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Football News

Keith Fahey staked his claim for a place in the Republic of Ireland midfield with an impressive display in the 2-1 defeat to Norway.

The 27-year-old Birmingham man was moved into the middle from his more accustomed right-sided berth by manager Giovanni Trapattoni and formed a comfortable partnership with Glenn Whelan as the Republic came within four minutes of claiming a draw against the team ranked 13th in the world.

Trapattoni said: "He (Fahey) played very well. He was not only very offensive, he played simply and he played cleverly. This was a very difficult game physically and tactically, but Keith Fahey played the way we needed him to."

The Italian added: "He had personality on the ball and I am very satisfied with him. I had a little doubt about him in this position, but he played very well."

Fahey's display was a source of comfort for Trapattoni on a night when his side lost at the Aviva Stadium for the third time in four attempts.

That, for a man who insists there is no such thing as a friendly game, was a disappointment, but there were other pluses too.

Shane Long, who fired the home side ahead from the penalty spot with just five minutes gone, proved that he has what it takes if he is called upon when the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign resumes in March next year. Meanwhile 19-year-old full-back Greg Cunningham gained vital experience and Stoke striker Jon Walters won his first senior cap as a substitute.

At the other end of the scale, keeper Shay Given set a new record by making his 109th appearance for his country, although his big night was to end in disappointment.

He could not get to Morten Gamst Pedersen's fine 34th-minute free-kick which cancelled out Long's opener, and he was left hopelessly isolated when Pedersen's 86th-minute cross was turned home by Huseklepp.

Trapattoni said: "I would have been satisfied with a draw because in the second half, we played very well."

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