On Friday, Ireland manager Mick McCarthy will name his provisional Irish squad for the upcoming games against Switzerland and Bulgaria.
The Boys in Green haven’t been in action since June where they drew with Denmark in Copenhagen and defeated Gibraltar in Dublin to solidify themselves at the top of their Euro 2020 qualifying group.
With the season only just underway in England and a couple of talents catching the eye domestically, McCarthy may face some tough decisions in his squad selection.
Let’s take a look at a squad of 30 players we believe McCarthy will select ahead of the games with Switzerland and Bulgaria.
McCarthy shouldn’t spring too many surprises on the goalkeeping front with Middlesbrough’s Darren Randolph almost guaranteed to be Ireland’s number one.
Bournemouth’s Mark Travers didn’t make the squad for their draw with Sheffield United but his first-team experience in the Premier League will likely make him second choice although Keiren Westwood could be primed for a return.
Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher who may see himself getting more opportunities at Anfield thanks to Alisson’s injury may be involved depending on fitness but it’s unlikely that he makes the final squad.
A position the Boys in Green have found themselves quite strong in as of late, the likes of Shane Duffy, Enda Stevens and the new Everton club captain Seamus Coleman will all be guaranteed starters for the Switzerland game.
Richard Keogh has formed a nice partnership alongside Duffy and he will be involved while John Egan waits in the wings for his opportunity as he begins life in the Premier League with Sheffield United.
The Matt Doherty issue will arise again and despite McCarthy not being able to find a spot for him in the starting XI, the Wolves man will certainly make the squad as will Greg Cunningham likely as left-back cover.
A wild card for McCarthy could be the inclusion of 18-year old Stoke defender Nathan Collins who started their first game of the season and is highly thought of at the Bet365 Stadium.
If McCarthy again opts to play three in the midfield, which worked well against both Denmark and Georgia, then he’ll need plenty of options.
Glenn Whelan is without a club after his release from Aston Villa but the lack of holding midfielders will lead to his inclusion, and despite James McCarthy’s lack of game-time his move to Palace should kick-start his career and see him involved as another option.
Regulars at their Premier League clubs Conor Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick will both be involved while Preston’s Alan Browne will be hoping to make it third time lucky under McCarthy after injury twice robbed him of a spot in the previous squads.
Josh Cullen’s move back to Charlton in the Championship will be hugely beneficial while Callum O’Dowda can be a game-changer on his day. Robbie Brady is out of form but is clearly a player McCarthy is a huge fan of and will surely be involved.
The midfield area though represents the opportunity for McCarthy to bring in some newer blood and perhaps feature them in the friendly against Bulgaria.
Jack Byrne has been magnificent for Shamrock Rovers in his first season in the League of Ireland and deserves his spot while Celtic’s Luca Connell may be given another opportunity to impress by McCarthy.
Birmingham midfielder Daniel Crowley is a dark horse for inclusion with McCarthy recently watching him against Portsmouth and the 21-year old’s qualities could add something different to Ireland going forward.
Another area McCarthy can experiment in given the fact that he’ll more than likely play three up front, with one number nine and two wingers.
Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick and Southampton’s Shane Long are the frontrunners for the centre-forward position, while Luton’s James Collins‘ goalscoring start to the Championship may see him recalled to the squad.
Out wide, Callum Robinson‘s move to the Premier League and promising displays for the Boys in Green should see him as an important player while both Sean Maguire and Ronan Curtis will be given another chance to impress.
The biggest question surrounding the squad will come in the form of Troy Parrott and despite McCarthy outlining that he’ll need to be involved for Spurs in the Premier League, the 17-year old should at least make the provisional squad.