Ireland suffered a potential blow during the week with the news that goalkeeper Darren Randolph is a doubt for their crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark next month.
Randolph missed Middlesbrough’s goalless draw with Huddersfield Town on Wednesday night, thanks to a thigh strain and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks of action.
The Boys in Green face Denmark on November 16th, meaning that Randolph may struggle to be fit in time for the game which, should Ireland win, will see them qualify for Euro 2020.
The 32-year-old has been one of Ireland’s most consistent performers over the past few years and his absence would undoubtedly be a massive blow to McCarthy’s side.
Should Randolph fail to recover in time, the Irish boss will have to look elsewhere for an option between the sticks, but who is in contention to replace the Boro stopper?
Let’s take a look;
The most logical option to replace Randolph should he fail to recover in time, Mark Travers made his senior debut for Ireland in their 3-1 friendly win over Bulgaria last month.
Travers had little to do in that victory, but the consensus is that the Bournemouth man is the second choice, despite his lack of game time at the Vitality Stadium this season.
The 21-year-old featured in the Premier League towards the end of last season, but has been resigned to appearances in the League Cup this season where he has admittedly impressed.
Travers is a strong shot-stopper and crucially has already shown his distribution to be one of the most promising aspects of his game.
Denmark would be a massive game for such a young keeper’s competitive debut, but Travers has proven before that he can shine when tossed in at the deep end.
The New Zealand friendly a few days before may also be the perfect opportunity for Travers to gain more vital experience for the Boys in Green.
Expect him to be between the sticks if Randolph isn’t.
A dark horse option for McCarthy, but a player who is unquestionably the most experienced of the keepers available to the Irish manager.
Westwood’s international career has been hampered by injuries and managers who evidently didn’t quite fancy him despite a number of standout seasons for Sheffield Wednesday.
The 34-year-old was involved with McCarthy’s first squad for the games against Gibraltar and Georgia but has not been involved since, even after recapturing the number one jersey at Hillsborough.
The Wednesday stopper is a solid option but hasn’t featured in a competitive game for Ireland in over seven years, even if he is a regular at his club.
He should be in the squad, but won’t start.
The Irish U21 and Liverpool keeper has been impressive for Stephen Kenny’s side and looked very comfortable in his first senior start for The Reds but this game comes much too early for him to win his first cap.
Kelleher is a tremendous talent and when Kenny takes over the senior side, his addition could mean a complete transformation in Ireland’s style of play given his ability on the ball, but it’s difficult to imagine McCarthy using him against the Danes.
The 20-year-old is below Travers in the experience stakes, but arguably could challenge Westwood and Kieran O’Hara for second choice, especially given the fact that the U21s have no game that weekend.
He has never been included in a senior squad by McCarthy but that could very well change ahead of the Denmark clash.
Still a largely unknown quantity to most, Kieran O’Hara has become a viable third choice under McCarthy in the last couple of months.
On loan at Burton Albion from Manchester United, O’Hara has steadily been progressing throughout his career, winning Macclesfield’s player of the year during his spell there last season and cementing himself as the number one at the Pirelli Stadium this campaign.
With O’Hara between the sticks, Burton have conceded the fewest home goals in the four top divisions in England with the 23-year-old in brilliant form this season.
🏠 Fewest HOME league goals conceded (top 4 tiers; 2019/20):
2⚽: ⛔BURTON⛔, Newcastle
3⚽: Burnley, Leicester, Palace, Forest, Leeds, Sheff W, Ipswich#BAFC @burtonalbionfc @KieranOhara_ pic.twitter.com/wzLIQSwpOI
— playmakerstats (@playmaker_EN) October 23, 2019
He won his first cap against Bulgaria, featuring for 15 minutes towards the end of the win, and may be closer to contention than many would think.
O’Hara may feature again in the New Zealand friendly, but it’s unlikely that he’s handed the number one jersey against the Danes.
Colin Doyle – Hearts
Max O’Leary – Shrewsbury
Sean McDermott – Kristiansund.