On Friday night, Ireland will return to action as they face familiar foes Denmark in their third game in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
Having started his second reign in charge with two narrow victories over Gibraltar and Georgia, McCarthy will be looking to make a statement in the group by getting a result away to the Danes.
The Irish boss has spent the last week and a half with his squad having brought them to a training camp in Portugal before returning to Dublin in preparation for the doubleheader, beginning in Copenhagen and ending in Dublin against Gibraltar.
Ireland have failed to beat Denmark in their last four outings and have only scored once against them, in the now infamous 5-1 defeat at the Aviva Stadium.
McCarthy and his players however have outlined that they will be looking to bring a more positive approach when they take on their group rivals on Friday, believing that they have the quality to take three points from Copenhagen.
But what team should McCarthy go with for that clash?
Taking injuries to the likes of Mark Travers, Shane Long and Alan Browne, who have all left the squad, into consideration we take a look at the starting XI we feel the Irish boss should go with for Friday’s game.
Given that McCarthy went 4-3-3 against Georgia and won, we are going to assume that’s the formation he will deploy against Denmark.
Had Bournemouth’s Travers not been injured perhaps he would have pushed for the number one spot but Darren Randolph will certainly be one of the first names on McCarthy’s teamsheet on Friday.
The Middlesbrough man has constantly delivered for his country and is coming off the back of one of the finest club seasons of his career, which saw him included in the Championship team of the season.
The right-back dilemma continues to rage on but McCarthy has outlined that a right-side of Seamus Coleman behind Matt Doherty won’t be tested again, however it’s likely that the Everton man and Irish captain will be given the nod ahead of his Wolves compatriot.
At left-back, Enda Stevens impressed against Georgia and given the outstanding season he has had helping Sheffield United to the Premier League he is a shoo-in to start against Denmark.
Shane Duffy is another name guaranteed to be in the starting XI given his importance to this Irish side over the past number of years as well as his excellent season at club level which saw him pick up Brighton’s player of the year accolade.
Derby’s Richard Keogh started both games against Gibraltar and Georgia and kept two clean sheets, with the 32-year old in favour with the Irish boss.
John Egan’s form with Sheffield United may warrant a start but it’s unlikely that he replaces Keogh.
In the midfield area, it’ll probably be a case of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ for McCarthy and given the fact that the Danish game, the more difficult of the two, is up first, Glenn Whelan should be the man to start in front of the back four.
The 35-year old impressed on his return against Georgia and could be a strong option in that position to counteract the talents of Christian Eriksen.
Alongside Whelan, Aston Villa’s Conor Hourihane seems to have found a place for himself in McCarthy’s midfield and will be looking to continue his creative form this season up against a difficult challenge of Lasse Schone and Thomas Delaney.
Burnley’s Jeff Hendrick is a player McCarthy is clearly a big fan of and like Hourihane he is growing into his role in the middle of the field. The fact that Alan Browne is missing through injury will also benefit him.
Up top, David McGoldrick‘s performance against Georgia, one of the finest we’ve seen from an Irish number nine in quite some time, is clearly deserving of another start, with Shane Long’s injury putting to bed any competition between the two in that regard.
Seani Maguire is again in with a shout but his poor performance against Gibraltar certainly didn’t do him any favours as he continues to struggle at international level
On the flanks, McCarthy opted for James McClean and Robbie Brady alongside McGoldrick against Georgia but neither stood out too much and the invention and ability of Preston’s Callum Robinson is a fantastic option for the Irish manager to have at his disposal.
Robinson missed the last camp through injury but had been excellent before the blow which dented his momentum midway through the season. It’s likely he gets the nod on the right.
Brady’s form hasn’t been the best at club level or in green since his return from injury but he brings much more experience than Ronan Curtis although McCarthy has spoken highly of the Portsmouth man in the past so don’t be surprised if the Irish boss goes for his goalscoring touch over Brady’s experience.
Callum O’Dowda is another strong option to have but given that he hasn’t played a full game since March it’s very difficult to see the Bristol City man starting.
Here is the team in full: