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The Irish XI: PA’s Team Of The Week From Around The English Leagues

As Mick McCarthy’s first squad selection draws ever closer it’s time to weigh up the options that the former Ipswich and Sunderland boss has at his disposal.

Starting this week, Pundit Arena will take a look at the Irish performances from across the English leagues and put together a starting eleven every Monday based solely on individual displays from potential Boys in Green.

Let’s take a look at who made the starting eleven in the first edition of The Irish XI.

(4-4-2 Diamond)

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Goalkeeper: Darren Randolph

Sheffield Wednesday’s Kieran Westwood did manage to keep a clean sheet in Sheffield Wednesday’s 0-1 away win over strugglers Ipswich but in truth, he was hardly tested throughout the game.

Despite conceding two, the number one spot this week goes to Middlesbrough’s Darren Randolph whose side picked up a massive 3-2 win over fellow promotion chasers West Brom.

Randolph was incredibly unlucky for the two goals he did concede and overall had a strong game to go with the standout season he is having.

A lock to start under McCarthy.

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Right-Back: Matt Doherty 

Where Irish captain Seamus Coleman struggled, Wolves’ Matt Doherty again shone, this time in a win over the aforementioned’s Everton.

Doherty was his usual marauding self up and down the right flank for Wolves and excellently won a penalty for his side who cruised to victory over Everton.

Coleman will likely start at right-back for Ireland under McCarthy but there’s no question that the new boss must find a spot for Ireland’s stand-out performer this season.

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Centre-Back: Shane Duffy

A clean sheet for Shane Duffy in what was, in truth, a drab affair at the Amex Stadium as Brighton drew with Watford.

Duffy was his usual solid self at the heart of the Brighton defence and coped with the attacking threat of Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu excellently.

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Centre-Back: John Egan

A centre-back who is continuously shining in a strong Sheffield United side that currently sit within touching distance of the Championship promotion places, Egan was a lock in the defence this week.

The Blades kept a clean sheet against Bolton with Egan looking solid alongside his defensive partners Jack O’Connell and Chris Basham at the heart of the defence.

Egan was on the fringes during O’Neill’s reign but his tremendous displays could see him as a potential starter under Mick McCarthy.

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Left-Back: Enda Stevens

Another Blade putting in an excellent shift, Stevens could be a long-term answer to Ireland’s left-back problems.

Stevens was very good against Bolton and offers a great deal going forward as well as his ability to balance his defensive duties on top of that.

With Stephen Ward getting on in age and Matt Doherty ideally more suited to the right side, Stevens is a natural fit to start at left-back under McCarthy.

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Centre Midfield: Conor Hourihane

Aston Villa’s game against Reading was far from an exciting affair with the pair playing out a 0-0 draw at the Madjeski but Conor Hourihane must be applauded for his contribution.

The former Barnsley man was defensively very solid in the middle of the park and showed good discipline in his role nullifying the attacking threat of Reading’s midfield.

A strong showing.

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Centre Midfield: Alan Browne

Criminally underutilised under the previous O’Neill and Keane regime, Alan Browne may not have found the scoresheet in Preston’s 0-0 draw with Derby County but the Cork man was one of North End’s standout performers.

Playing again off the front but putting in strong work in the middle of the park, Browne was a threat to Derby throughout the game as he looked to add to his 10 Championship goals from midfield.

A player that has surely played his way into starting contention throughout the season.

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Centre Midfield: Callum O’Dowda 

A player who has really come into his own this season at Bristol City, Callum O’Dowda was instrumental yet again in his side’s 2-0 victory over Swansea City.

O’Dowda was a constant threat in the game and deservedly got on the scoresheet as Lee Johnson’s side picked up an important victory.

The 23-year old was a favourite of O’Neill but his form since the turn of the year could be an indication that he will transition to being one of Mick McCarthy’s most important players.

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Attacking-Midfield: David McGoldrick

Calls for McGoldrick to be brought back into the Irish set-up continue to look more and more justified with every passing game he plays for Sheffield United.

Another goal and an all-around excellent display alongside veteran striker Billy Sharp, McGoldrick must feel that he has surely done enough to earn himself an Irish recall under his old Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy.

Calm and confident on the ball, McGoldrick once again shone as The Blades swept Bolton aside.

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Striker: Seani Maguire

No goals for Preston’s Seani Maguire but playing in a front three he put in a strong performance as he continues to battle back from injury.

The striker was lively and energetic and his pace caused Derby County problems throughout despite Alex Neill’s side being unable to come away with all three points.

His Ireland career has been hampered by injury but should he manage to stay fit he’s another who could become an important player for Mick McCarthy.

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Striker: James Collins 

A former Irish U21 international, James Collins has been scoring goals for fun at League One table-toppers Luton Town and grabbed another two in their victory over Shrewsbury.

Collins was the standout performer for the Hatters and with Ireland extremely short of goalscorers Collins could be an option for McCarthy to look at despite the level he is playing at.

16 league goals and counting, Collins deserves his place in this weeks’ starting XI.

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Author: Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here [email protected]