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The Capital One Cup kicked off the new season for many Irish players, while Damien Duff and Shane Long both scored as preparations for the new Premier League campaign continue

ANALYSIS
By Ryan Bailey

There’s just one week to go until the start of the new football league season but firstly the attention turns to international matters as Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland face Serbia in a friendly on Wednesday.

PRE-SEASON FRIENDLIES
 
Damien Duff’s first-half goal wasn’t enough as Fulham were beaten 2-1 by London neighbours Charlton Athletic in a behind closed doors friendly on Saturday. The Ireland winger swept home a low cross inside five minutes to give the Premier League side an early lead as Stephen Kelly was an unused substitute.

Sunderland concluded their pre-season programme with a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City as James McClean, John O’Shea, Kieran Westwood, David Meyler and Irish underage international John Egan all enjoyed game time.

Shane Long scored for West Brom as they ended up comfortable 2-0 winners over Nottingham Forest during the week. The Republic of Ireland striker has been in good form and his effort against the Championship side will give him confidence heading into the new campaign. Stephen Reid also got a run out at the City Ground.

Anthony Pilkington featured for Norwich in their defeat to Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach, but was forced off with a hamstring injury after 65 minutes. Meanwhile Robbie Brady was an unused substitute as Manchester United beat Hannover 96 4-3 on Saturday evening in Germany.

Ciaran Clark continued his fine pre-season form as he helped Aston Villa to a 3-3 draw with Werder Bremen. Shay Given, Enda Stevens and Clark all started for Paul Lambert’s side and it was the defender who put Villa into a first-half lead with a clinical strike from a corner.

Everton’s pre-season schedule came to a close with a narrow defeat to Malaga, but there were good performances from both Seamus Coleman and Shane Duffy, while Joey O’Brien played all of West Ham’s 1-1 with Braga in Portugal.

Keith Andrews helped Bolton to a creditable 2-2 draw with Barcelona 'B' but Andy Lonergan had to watch from the dugout while Stephen Carr and Adam Rooney couldn’t stop Birmingham suffering a 3-1 defeat to Royal Antwerp.

Sean O’Driscoll’s reign as Nottingham Forest boss has got off to a promising start but the Championship side were beaten by West Brom at the weekend despite Andy Reid pulling the strings in the Forest midfield. Kevin Kilbane and Adam Barton got 90 minutes under their belt ahead of the new campaign as Coventry City overcame Bristol Rovers 2-1 at the weekend.

Blackburn finalised their preparations for life in the second tier of English football with a victory over Cork City at Turner’s Cross on Sunday afternoon. There was no Irish involvement for Rovers with the absence of Leon Best through injury.

CAPITAL ONE CUP

Leeds safely progressed to the second round of the League Cup with a 4-0 victory over Cheltenham at Elland Road as Paddy Kenny, Paul Green and Aidy White all play a full part for Neil Warnock’s side. Meanwhile Stephen Quinn helped Sheffield United to a narrow penalty shoot-out win over Burton Albion on Saturday.

There was plenty of Irish involvement as Wolves needed penalties to get past Aldershot Town in the League Cup. Stephen Ward and Stephen Hunt both scored in the shoot-out as Wanderers won 7-6. Anthony Forde and Kevin Doyle both got 90 minutes while Kevin Foley had to settle for a place on the bench.

Karl Sheppard’s Accrington Stanley career got off to a losing start as the League Two club were beaten 1-0 by Carlisle but the former Shamrock Rovers striker played 90 minutes. Elsewhere, Greg Cunningham played the majority of Bristol City’s victory over Bournemouth and Alex Bruce featured for Hull as they overcame Rotherham United in the Capital One Cup.

SCOTLAND


Darren Randolph continued his good form as he prepares to join up with the Boys in Green but Motherwell were held to a 1-1 draw with St Johnstone while Aaron Doran appeared for Inverness against Kilmarnock.
 
Pat Fenlon’s Hibernian had to settle for a share of the spoils in the Edinburgh derby as they drew 1-1 with Hearts and elsewhere Niall McGinn’s Aberdeen played out a goalless draw at home to Ross County as the former Derry forward played an hour.
FURTHER AFIELD

Spartak Moscow winger Aiden McGeady had a very forgettable afternoon against Zenit St Petersburg on Saturday, picking up a straight red card for a late challenge as Spartak lost 5-0 to the Russian Premier League champions.

Robbie Keane continued his goalscoring run in MLS on Sunday night, opening the scoring in LA Galaxy's 4-0 derby win over Chivas USA to take his tally to 10 goals this season.

Former Ireland international Andy O'Brien made his Vancouver Whitecaps debut, coming off the bench after half an hour in their 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake after Jay DeMerit was forced off injured.

IRISH XI OF THE WEEKEND

Goalkeeper: Darron Randolph (Motherwell)

Defenders:
Kevin Kilbane (Coventry City), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Andy O'Brien (Vancouver), Enda Stevens (Aston Villa)

Midfielders:
Seamus Coleman (Everton), Andy Reid (Nottingham Forest), Stephen Quinn (Sheffield United), Damien Duff (Fulham)

Forwards:
Shane Long (West Brom), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)

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