After drawing with Wales on Friday night to leave them in second place on goal difference in World Cup qualification Group D, Ireland’s attentions now turn to Euro 2016’s surprise package, Iceland.
Here we select the team Martin O’Neill should put out for the friendly on Tuesday night.
Goalkeeper: Kieran Westwood
Ireland are lucky to have such a capable understudy in Kieran Westwood. Westwood would arguably be Ireland’s number one but injuries and pull-outs saw him pushed down the pecking order under Martin O’Neill.
One of the Championship’s best keepers, it would be great to see the Sheffield Wednesday man given a run out against Iceland.
Right-Back: Cyrus Christie
It is important Derby man Christie is given game time against Iceland considering the fact he will be thrust into action for Ireland’s next few qualifiers with Seamus Coleman facing a spell on the sidelines.
An exciting player going forward, Christie has always risen to the occasion when called upon.
Centre-Back: John Egan
Egan has enjoyed a solid first season at Brentford and is a natural-born leader. The son of Kerry GAA legend John Snr, The centre-half was a prolific goalscorer for Gillingham and now the Bees. He is a similar threat in the box to former international Richard Dunne. Would be well capable of taking on the Icelanders.
Centre-Back: Andy Boyle
A composed, left-footed centre-back, Boyle has settled in quickly in the Championship and could fit nicely into the Irish set-up.
Highly rated by Martin O’Neill, the former Dundalk man is one of the few players in the Irish squad to have experienced European football, which has similar features to the international game.
Left-Back: Robbie Brady
O’Neill welcomes back the Burnley man following his suspension for the Wales clash. Brady’s inclusion at left-back allows for the selection of James McClean on the left wing and the more experience he has in this slot the better.
Brady will bring the set-piece deliveries that were missing against Wales.
Right Wing: Daryl Horgan
Possibly Irish football’s form man of the past two years, Horgan’s debut is certainly due and he will no doubt feature against Iceland.
Like Boyle, Horgan has adjusted to life at Preston rapidly and international football is not a step above him. A player that will no doubt get a huge ovation should his debut come next week.
Central Midfield: Jeff Hendrick
Hendrick has played on the right wing, on the right of a midfield three and on Friday night in the attacking midfield role for Ireland.
The Iceland friendly could be the perfect opportunity to try out the Burnley man in a deeper midfield role. Hendrick has the potential to dictate games but has been utilised in more workmanlike roles under O’Neill.
Central Midfield: Conor Hourihane
The Aston Villa man has been one of Ireland’s best players domestically this season. An incredible 13 assists this season has propelled his profile and the Bandon man is another that looks certain to make his debut against Iceland.
A sweet left foot combined with a real bite in his tackle, Hourihane will hope to catch the eye and put himself into the frame for the remainder of the qualifiers.
Left Wing: James McClean
In what has been a draining week for the Derryman, O’Neill could choose to rest the hero from the Welsh game.
However, it could be a great opportunity to work on his combination play with Robbie Brady behind him. This worked so well against Austria and O’Neill may want to give it another shot next week.
Attacking Midfield: Aiden McGeady
O’Neill has spoken about the possibility of McGeady playing as a number 10 in a free role. With Wes Hoolahan, Alan Judge, Liam Kelly and David McGoldrick unavailable, the Iceland game could be the time to experiment with McGeady positionally.
He is undoubtedly Ireland’s form player at the moment.
Striker: Shane Long
With no new strikers in the squad, giving regular frontman Shane Long a start is the most likely scenario.
Long is Ireland’s top scorer in the current squad and will hope to add to his 17 international goals. He would thrive off the service of McClean, Horgan and McGeady.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena
Read More About: aiden mcgeady, andy boyle, conor hourihane, cyrus christie, daryl horgan, irish international football, james mcclean, jeff hendrick, john egan, kieran westwood, Martin O'Neill, robbie brady, shane long