A quick turnaround for Mick McCarthy and Ireland as they face their second Euro 2020 qualifier in just four days with Gibraltar on the agenda at the Aviva Stadium on Monday night.
The Boys in Green will be full of confidence heading into the game after Shane Duffy’s late goal rescued a point against Denmark in Copenhagen on Friday, but the Gibraltar tie may represent a chance for McCarthy to make some necessary changes.
The Irish boss has indicated that there won’t be wholesale changes but given the level of opposition, it could be an opportunity to freshen things up and give fringe players a spot in the starting XI.
With that in mind let’s take a look at the experimental side Mick McCarthy could choose for the game against Gibraltar.
As much as it would be excellent to see the likes of Sean McDermott and James Talbot being handed their first taste of action in the first team, McCarthy’s recent emphasis on continuity will make it very difficult for the pair to usurp Darren Randolph who has consistently been excellent between the sticks.
At the back, there has been a clamour for John Egan to get a start ahead of Richard Keogh but a steady centre-half partnership is important and with McCarthy going with the Derby man alongside Shane Duffy for the first three games there’s no real need to change.
The more games the pair play next to one another the more comfortable they will continue to look.
At left-back, Enda Stevens will start and like the centre-half pairing the more games the Sheffield United man gets the better.
On the other side, this game could represent a chance to start Matt Doherty in his more natural defensive position ahead of Seamus Coleman.
The Wolves man hasn’t really been given an opportunity to show what he can do under McCarthy in that position and given his form this season should be keen to make a big impression.
In the midfield, Glenn Whelan has been excellent on his return to the Irish setup but the former Villa man looked understandably tired towards the end of the Danish game.
Whelan could certainly be rested with Monday providing an opportunity for young Josh Cullen to get his first start in the Irish midfield.
The West Ham man has been frequently praised by McCarthy and his teammates and would be the most natural replacement in Whelan’s position in the Irish squad.
Jeff Hendrick was relatively anonymous against Denmark and Conor Hourihane was a level below his performance against Georgia but both will more than likely keep their place given the lack of potential replacements in the squad.
If Mick sticks with 4-3-3 which we feel he certainly will do, then James McClean and especially Robbie Brady simply must sit this one out based on form alone.
Brady started the game against Denmark but looked off the pace and a shadow of the player who had been so impressive before his injury at Burnley.
McClean’s effectiveness continues to wain and the Stoke man had a couple of great chances against the Danes but squandered them in a game he struggled to get a foothold in.
McCarthy brought Callum Robinson on with a few minutes to go on Friday night and the Preston man should certainly start on one of the flanks on Monday.
David McGoldrick never looked like scoring against Denmark but he’s a striker who absolutely needs a goal and despite Gibraltar”s astute defending at home, they’re unlikely to put up as much of a resistance at the Aviva Stadium.
McCarthy had mentioned Callum O’Dowda as a player who will be gunning for a chance to return to the starting XI and given his creativity he could be the perfect third man in Ireland’s front three as they look to break down their opponents easier than they did in March.
The Irish boss probably would have started Alan Judge had he not unfortunately broken his wrist and being a fan of Ronan Curtis’ goalscoring ability from wide could factor into his thinking but here is the side we feel he will go with for tonight’s game.