Mick McCarthy has selected his provisional 38-man squad ahead of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia.
Over the last few weeks, Pundit Arena had been putting together an XI of the best Irish performers from around the English leagues.
Now that McCarthy has chosen his pool of 38 players to select from we take a look at who he should select in his starting XI based on individual performances from the weekend.
Goalkeeper: Keiren Westwood
A man of the match display from Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood as he continues his good form upon returning to the Irish set-up.
The 34-year old failed to keep a clean sheet against Derby but kept his side in the game with a string of excellent saves and a number of late clearances as his sharpness helped Wednesday maintain Steve Bruce’s unbeaten start to life at Hillsborough.
It’s likely that Darren Randolph will be McCarthy’s number one come the end of the month, it would be difficult to argue against that given the season he has had, but Westwood is certainly doing his best to give the new Irish boss something to think about.
Right-Back: Matt Doherty
Ireland captain Seamus Coleman was taken ill before Everton’s game against Newcastle at the weekend, so the ever-improving Matt Doherty gets the nod at right-back.
The 26-year old must now be a shoo-in for Team of the Season in his position such has been the level of performance he has delivered time and time again on the right-hand side for Wolves.
Against Chelsea, he was a constant thorn in Sarri’s men’s side and deserved to be on the winning team despite Wolves’ late equaliser. McCarthy simply must start him against Gibraltar and Georgia.
Centre-Back: Shane Duffy
A key figure for Brighton in what proved to be a massive victory against their old rivals Crystal Palace, Shane Duffy will unquestionably be one of the first names on McCarthy’s teamsheet at the end of the month.
He was outstanding in their 2-1 win, looking solid as ever at the back and dominant in the air as Brighton picked up a vital three points to edge them away from danger.
A contender for the captaincy should Coleman miss out through injury.
Centre-Back: John Egan
What can be said about John Egan this week that hasn’t been said a thousand times already this season?
Sheffield United kept up the pressure on Norwich and Leeds in the automatic promotion places of the Championship thanks to a 2-0 win over Yorkshire rivals Rotherham.
Egan was impressive at the heart of the Blades’ defence as his understanding with Jack O’Connell and Chris Basham in the back three continues to be one of the finest defensive units in all of English football.
Given Ciaran Clark is not in the squad, Egan simply must be selected beside Duffy at the back for Ireland.
Left-Back: Enda Stevens
Stevens continues to be the standout option at left-back for Ireland, as returning to his more natural position he impressed for Sheffield United against Rotherham.
The former Shamrock Rovers man is constantly improving going forward, and when you consider his solidity in defence, he is starting to develop into one of the best all-around full-backs in the division.
He has proven he can play left-back, left wing-back and centre-back and will be a vital asset for McCarthy throughout the qualifiers.
Centre-Midfield: Conor Hourihane
In a game that was filled with controversy and dominated by the Villa captain Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane was the quiet calming influence in midfield for Dean Smith’s side.
Hourihane, alongside fellow Irish call-up Glenn Whelan, looked strong in the middle of the park in a game where it would have been incredibly easy for him to lose his head.
The midfield appears to be a position where places are up for grabs, but there’s no doubt that Hourihane must be a frontrunner for a starting berth.
Centre-Midfield: Harry Arter
A dogged display from the Cardiff City man, as the Bluebirds picked up a massive victory in their relegation battle against West Ham United.
Arter broke up play tremendously throughout and could be an excellent option for McCarthy if the new boss is looking for some steel in the midfield.
Attacking Midfield: Alan Judge
The former Brentford man continues to revitalise his career in the blue of Ipswich, with McCarthy a known admirer of the 30-year-old.
Against West Brom, Judge was all over the pitch and has arguably been Ipswich’s standout player in a season which has been largely forgettable at Portman Road.
His creativity could also be a different option for McCarthy in the Irish midfield.
Right-Wing: Ronan Curtis
During his first squad announcement, last Thursday McCarthy namechecked Portsmouth’s Ronan Curtis as an exciting wide-player available to him ahead of the games against Gibraltar and Georgia.
Against Charlton on Saturday, Curtis lived up to the hype, despite his side’s disappointing defeat to League One rivals Charlton Athletic.
Curtis was a constant threat from the left-side for Portsmouth and added to his 10 league goals with a thumping header just before the break to bring Portsmouth back into the game.
At just 22, he continues to be one of Ireland’s brightest young stars.
Striker: Scott Hogan
The on-loan Villa forward was given a rare start for Sheffield United against Rotherham at the weekend, and despite not getting on the scoresheet Hogan was lively throughout.
The striker has struggled for game-time and fitness over the last number of months but showed glimpses of quality as the Blades kept the pressure on the top two with a win.
It’s highly unlikely that Hogan starts either game for Ireland, given his lack of consistent minutes at club level, but if he continues to impress and refind his scoring touch, then he could become a promising option for McCarthy over the next few months.
Left-Wing: James McClean
Without massively standing out, this was about as typical a James McClean performance as you’re likely to ever see in what was a difficult outing for Stoke against QPR.
McClean, playing on the left, busied himself and got around the pitch and in the faces of QPR players, something he has become renowned for during his career.
The 29-year old was a vital part of Ireland’s starting XI under Martin O’Neill and can be just as influential under McCarthy.
The only question really surrounds where he will fit in, given his versatility.