With Robbie Brady suspended for Ireland’s showdown with Wales next month, we look at the Boys in Green’s options in the problem position of left-back.
Although deployed as a midfielder at Euro 2016, Brady took the left-back slot against Austria in Vienna, where he picked up the booking which led to his suspension.
Although Stephen Ward is the likely candidate to fill in for his Burnley teammate, other players have put their hands up in recent months to challenge one of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill’s favoured picks.
Here we’ll take a look at five of those options.
Part of the strong Irish contingent at Preston, Cunningham has stood out for the Lilywhites this season. Having made his debut for Ireland back in 2010, the Galway man has revolutionised his play to become a much pacier and athletic full-back.
An excellent crosser and exciting player, last year’s club Player of the Season is a more mobile option than Ward and is possibly one of Ireland’s form players in the Championship.
Not as fast as Cunningham, but Doherty has been hugely influential for Paul Lambert’s Wolves – adding goals to his game from defence. Although right footed, Doherty has filled in admirably at left-back and has shown some powerful runs forward.
Another man who won his club’s Player of the Season accolade last term, Doherty has been unlucky not to yet win an Ireland cap. Having been penalty taker for the Ireland Under-21s, Doherty also knows how to strike a sweet free-kick.
The Waterford man strangely qualifies for Germany and the USA but has represented Ireland at the Under-19 European Championships. Highly rated at Aston Villa, Williams left for Bristol to gain first team action.
Having joined Blackburn last summer, Williams has been one of the bright sparks of the struggling Championship club. Capable of playing at centre-half too, Williams is low down the left-back pecking order.
One of the heroes of Dundalk’s Europa League campaign in 2016, Massey has long been touted for an Ireland call-up. Good going forward and an impressive crosser, Massey played on the same flank as Daryl Horgan and showed that he can compete with Europe’s elite.
At 28, it may be difficult for the former Bray man to make an international breakthrough but he is certainly an option.
Probably an unfamiliar name to most Ireland fans, but McCrory has been a regular for Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion. The Limerick native has had spells in the lower leagues and has played at left-back, left wing and wing-back.
He is a pacy and physical player but does not seem to be on the international radar at the moment. However, his form this season has been been admirable in what is a problem position for Ireland.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena