Ireland take on Turkey on Friday with Martin O’Neill’s rebuilding process about to commence.
The Irish manager finalised his 25-man squad for the away tie with several uncapped players in line to make their international debuts. We examine five possible formations that Martin O’Neill could deploy in Ankara.
The in-form XI
A 5-3-2 with Colin Doyle the only noteworthy keeper in form with Aaron McCarey struggling with Ross County and Kieran O’Hara without a first-team appearance this season. Seamus Coleman, Declan Rice and Shane Duffy are racking up Premier League appearances of late with Derrick Williams in great form for Blackburn in League 1. Enda Stevens has stood out for Sheffield United in the Championship with Cork pair Alan Browne and Conor Hourihane two of the Championship’sin-formm midfielders. Jeff Hendrick has been solid for Burnley with Scott Hogan and Sean Maguire notching up 11 goals between them in the last two months.
Building for the future
Not near Ireland’s best up and coming XI with the likes of Liam Kelly and Josh Cullen excluded this time around, this side could represent the cohort for the next campaign. Kieran O’Hara could see game time as could Matt Doherty who is a noble understudy to Seamus Coleman. Conor Hourihane could be a key midfielder for the next few years with Sean Maguire and Alan Browne likley to be key men for their country sooner rather than later.
Strongest Available XI
Martin O’Neill could deploy his trusted three at the back that worked so well for him at Leicester and Celtic. It is a formation that has become popular in international football and it could accommodate Ireland’s best available players in the squad for Friday. This team offers good balance with James McClean and Seamus Coleman providing a deep lying attack from wing back. The back three offers both strength and ball playing experience with a box-to-box midfield three. Shane Long and Sean Maguire could strike up a nice partnership with Longs pace complimenting Maguire’s ability to drop deep.
This side offers a well balanced side with an exciting attack. James McClean’s flair can be utilised with Alan Judge’s technical ability, the Brentford man started his career on the right wing and could find himself playing in a more central role. Jeff Hendrick has adjusted to the number 10 role at Burnley and Martin O’Neill could fancy him in behind Sean Maguire who should start. Enda Stevens offers a new option at left back with the remainder of the team full of familiar faces.
O’Neill’s best results for Ireland have come using the diamond formation and the players in this week’s squad could fit the bill quite nicely. It provides a well balanced back four as well as the youthful Declan Rice and Alan Browne. Conor Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick sit on their favoured sides with Shane Long and Sean Maguire up top. May not be a popular choice given James McClean’s struggles within it in the past.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena