Anthony Stokes called up for Irish friendlies

HIBS star Anthony Stokes has had his season extended by another week after being named in the Republic of Ireland squad for two friendly matches against World Cup-bound Paraguay and Algeria.

Easter Road's top scorer was called up by Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni for an end-of-season training camp on the outskirts of Dublin.

And he caught the Italian's eye by scoring the only goal of the game as Trapattoni's side faced Ireland's Under-23s.

The full Irish squad will play again tonight against the Emerald Isle's international amateurs and, although Stokes has been named among the substitutes, Trapattoni has confirmed the Hibs ace, scorer of 23 goals last season, as being among those who will be considered for next week's challenge matches.

Ireland will play Paraguay, who have been drawn against Trapattoni's homeland in Group F at the World Cup finals, on Tuesday and then face the Algerians, part of Group A which also includes England, next Friday. Both games take place in Dublin.

Meanwhile, Hibs' hopes of making the lucrative group stages of the Europa League have soared after it was confirmed the Edinburgh club will, after all, be seeded when they enter the competition in the third qualifying round.

It had been thought John Hughes' side would be unseeded, raising the prospect of being paired with a big name such as Liverpool, Sporting Lisbon, Juventus or Galatasaray when the draw for the qualifiers is made on 16 July.

However, they have sneaked in as the likely final seeds after Sevilla's 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Cup final promoted Getafe, who have a higher co-efficient than Hibs, into the Europa League play-off stage, keeping Norwegian side Nordsjaelland, who have a lower co-efficient, in the third qualifying round.

The final seedings won't be announced for another fortnight yet, but avoiding some of the most famous names in Europe would undoubtedly enhance the Easter Road outfit's chances of joining Scottish Cup winners Dundee United in the play-off round.