Doyle: I will relish every second
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Kevin Doyle is expecting to have his leg pulled by Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy when he returns to his club after one of the biggest nights of his life. The 25-year-old striker will follow in the latter's footsteps tonight when he captains the Republic of Ireland in their friendly against the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ at Thomond Park.

It is an honour McCarthy, who went on to manage his country, enjoyed frequently during an international career spanning 57 caps and Italy 1990. Doyle made his 28th senior appearance for Republic of Ireland in Saturday night's qualifying victory in Cyprus, and has been handed the armband following the release of regular skipper Robbie Keane and a handful of other more senior players.

But he is sure he will find himself on the wrong end of the famously dry McCarthy's wit when he heads back to Molineux. "I am sure he will have a laugh on Thursday when I meet back up," Doyle said.

I just phoned my parents and they were delighted. Very few people get to captain their country. I will relish every second.
Republic of Ireland's Kevin Doyle

"I don't know how many times he was captain, but he did a great job. I am sure I won't have the privilege of being captain as many times as he was and in major tournaments like he was, but it's still an honour for me.

"I just phoned my parents and they were delighted. They didn't expect me to be playing in the game, so for them to hear I was going to be made captain, they were delighted. Very few people get to captain their country.

It's a friendly game but to me, that doesn't make any difference. I will remember it - you never know when I will get the chance again. There are five or six lads who have more caps than me and would have been ahead of me, so I will relish every second that I get to be captain."

Crucial experience
Doyle will be one of only three men - Sean St Ledger, provided his knee problem does not resurface, and Keith Andrews are the others - who started in Nicosia in line to do so again. The likes of Keiren Westwood, Liam Lawrence, Darron Gibson and Caleb Folan, who will all play, have only a handful of caps between them.

However, the skipper knows from experience just how important it is for the players waiting in the wings to get international football under their belts whenever they can so they are prepared when the big call comes. "They have all experienced it - they all play in front of big crowds every week," he said. 

"But it is different. I know myself, when I made my debut, I found in the first three, four, five games how hard it was just not to be too nervous to get on with the situation and play my own game.

"I found it difficult and that's why these games are so important, to get that feeling out of the way so when you are needed in a competitive game, you can just settle straight in and not have those nerves you feel in your first few games."