Injury rules Duff out of Ireland’s Group B opener in Armenia

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The Republic of Ireland will have to do without the services of Damien Duff as they look to begin their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a victory in Armenia.

Duff was substituted with five minutes remaining of Fulham’s 2-2 draw away at Blackpool in their most recent Premier League game with a calf injury and leaves Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni short of wide options for his first Group B clash.

Ireland are 4/6 to collect the three points in Yerevan despite Trapattoni being vastly short on experienced midfielders for the tie.

Stephen Hunt is out with a long-term foot problem, Keith Andrews is sidelined with a groin complaint and Liam Lawrence has not featured for Stoke this season because of a similar issue.

This means that Birmingham’s Keith Fahey and Derby’s Paul Green could have to make their competitive debuts for their country, while Aiden McGeady could play some part even though he is short of match fitness since completing his move to Spartak Moscow.

The one positive for Trapattoni is that Duff could make a sufficient enough recovery to play in Dublin against Andorra in their second Group B fixture, four days after the Armenia showdown.

Ireland have never faced Armenia before and Robbie Keane is the 7/2 favourite to open the scoring, while Kevin Doyle is 5/1 to break the deadlock.

Armenia did beat Belgium at home during the qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup, while eventual winners Spain only managed to secure a 2-1 victory in the country.

Armenia are 7/2 to beat the Republic of Ireland, with the draw at 12/5. See the whole Armenia vs Republic of Ireland match betting market.

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