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Pearce and Kelly in ROI Call-up

Alex Pearce and Stephen Kelly have retained their place in Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland squad for a friendly against Serbia on March 5th.

Clive Mason

The duo join a list of Premier League defenders in the squad, with only one other Championship player (Brighton's Stephen Ward) making the cut.

Martin O'Neill has attended the Madesjki Stadium this season and was clearly impressed with Pearce, who has made all of his Ireland squads and scored the winner for Reading at QPR on Sunday; Kelly meanwhile has been a stalwart choice at full-back having travelled to Euro 2012.

Both players' last appearance came in a 0-0 draw in Poland in November- Kelly playing the full 90 and Pearce a 62nd minute substitute.

The headline absentees from the squad were Shay Given and Stephen Ireland, with ex-Royals Simon Cox, Kevin Doyle and Shane Long part of the striking options.