Ireland midfielder Josh Cullen cleared to face Armenia after ‘suspension’ is chalked off

Josh Cullen has been cleared to face Armenia tomorrow after a ‘suspension’ was chalked off at the eleventh hour.

Stephen Kenny thought he would be without his first-choice midfielder after he received two yellow cards in separate World Cup qualifiers last year.

The second of those came in the final game of the campaign, a 3-0 win away to Luxembourg in November.

The FAI asked FIFA at the time if two bookings would result in a suspension and were told it would.

But Cullen’s name was not on UEFA’s list of suspensions issued to national associations this week and the FAI sought urgent clarity.

Yesterday, a FIFA source confirmed there was an administrative misunderstanding and Cullen is free to play.

In Yerevan last night, Kenny said: “We have Josh Cullen available since (Wednesday) which surprised us really. He’s not suspended.

“When we got notification a long time ago from FIFA that he was suspended in the next competition, I asked them to challenge that because I thought it was extremely harsh.

“But under FIFA rules that was it. But in the notification from UEFA the other day, he wasn’t on it as being suspended so we (queried) that.

Josh Cullen playing for RSC Anderlecht

“Whoever was working behind the scenes here did their job. We had the notification. It is what it is. It wasn’t something I was planning for so you have to adjust.”

Cullen and Matt Doherty were Ireland’s over ever-present players throughout that World Cup campaign and he is a key man in Kenny’s team.

He trained with the Ireland squad in Dublin over the weekend and again at FAI headquarters on Monday and Tuesday.

But the Anderlecht star had permission to skip the trek to Armenia and was due to spend a few days with family in England before returning for the Ukraine game.

Those plans changed at the last minute once the FAI got confirmation that he did not have to serve a suspension in the Nations League.

And Cullen flew to Yerevan on Wednesday with the rest of the squad and Kenny has no injury concerns going into tomorrow’s match.

“I was as surprised as Josh,” added Kenny. “It is what it is and it’s good news. He’s delighted.”

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