Republic of Ireland skipper Robbie Keane lost his battle to be fit in time for Tuesday night’s must-not-lose Euro 2012 qualifier against Armenia with a sore adductor muscle.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni said Keane’s place will be taken by West Bromwich Albion frontman Simon Cox, who has been preferred to club-mate Shane Long and Stoke’s Jonathan Walters, while goalkeeper Shay Given will wear the captain’s armband.
The 31-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy striker — Ireland’s record scorer with 51 goals — will continue to undergo treatment in the hope that he will be fit should Ireland gain the point they need to secure a play-off berth next month.
Stephen Kelly will replace the suspended Stephen Ward at left-back, while Richard Dunne returns from his ban as Darren O’Dea makes way.
Keane and his team-mates endured a gruelling trip back from Andorra, which involved a three-hour coach journey from the Pyrenean principality to Barcelona and then a delayed flight of almost the same length, eventually arriving back in Dublin early on Saturday morning.