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The Ireland XI Stephen Kenny should start against Wales

Ireland take on Wales in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday as Stephen Kenny continues to search for his first win in his new role.

Here is the Ireland team we believe should start against Wales in Cardiff:

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Goalkeeper: Darren Randolph.

Arguably the first name on the team sheet, Randolph’s place certainly isn’t in doubt ahead of Sunday’s game. Consistently one of Ireland’s best performers.

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Defence: Dara O’Shea, Kevin Long, Shane Duffy, Matt Doherty

With the trio of Enda Stevens, John Egan and Seamus Coleman missing, Kenny will have to put together somewhat of a makeshift back four against Wales.

He does however have strength in depth at the back, especially at centre-half. It’s clear that Shane Duffy will start despite struggles at club level, while Matt Doherty was excellent at left-back against England and will likely keep his place there.

Kenny has more frequently played West Brom’s Dara O’Shea as a centre-back however his familiarity with the right-back position and the struggles of Cyrus Christie against England mean the young defender should get the nod there.

That leaves a spot beside Duffy up for grabs and despite the inclusions of Darragh Lenihan and Ciaran Clark, it’s likely that Kenny will go with the experienced Kevin Long in the position to complete the back four.

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Midfield: Jayson Molumby, Jeff Hendrick, Jack Byrne

Another area Kenny is missing personnel in, how he sets up his midfield in Cardiff will be interesting to see.

Jeff Hendrick was strong in spells against England and deserves to keep his place while Brighton’s Jayson Molumby brought excellent energy to the midfield when he came on at Wembley and could slot in alongside the Newcastle man.

That leaves one spot up for grabs and given the fact that Kenny and Ireland so desperately need a goal from open play, Shamrock Rovers’ Jack Byrne should be given a chance.

Byrne is the only natural number 10 in the current squad and his creativity off the front is something that could help Ireland open up the Welsh defence.

Someone like Conor Hourihane would certainly be a safer option, but Byrne would add something much different to the Irish midfield.

Ireland Wales

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Attack: Daryl Horgan, Adam Idah, Callum O’Dowda

With Callum Robinson and Aaron Connolly still missing it’s difficult to see Kenny changing his front three for the Welsh game.

Adam Idah is clearly his first choice number nine following David McGoldrick’s retirement and he has performed well in the role so far with the senior team. He will also improve the more he plays which is crucial.

Ireland Wales

Daryl Horgan was lively at times at Wembley and has the pace to cause the Wales defence problems if Ireland can get him on the ball a little more.

Callum O’Dowda has proven to be a favourite of Kenny and should keep in place in the starting XI.

Ireland Wales

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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]