Former Republic of Ireland manager John Giles is in no doubt as to how he’d line the side up against Wales on Friday evening.
Martin O’Neill’s side take on the Welsh in a massive World Cup qualifier in a match that could have a huge bearing on both sides’ hopes of progressing to the finals in Russia next year.
Speaking on Newstalk’s Off the Ball on Thursday evening, Irish legend Giles revealed that he would leave James McCarthy on the bench – and that’s not necessarily down to the midfielder’s fitness issues either.
McCarthy has been struggling with a hamstring injury recently – and may yet have to make do with a place on the bench – but Giles has suggested that the Everton player isn’t really good enough to be commanding a place in the starting lineup anyway.
He then gave the names of how he believes Ireland will (and should line up), while conceding that the suspended Robbie Brady is a big loss:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Whelan, McGeady, Hendrick and McClean are the midfield.
“I think McCarthy is a big gamble at the moment. He hasn’t played much at all recently.
“All of those players are playing quite regularly at this particular time.
“McCarthy hasn’t had much playing time at all in recent times and it’s not as if McCarthy has been a great player for Ireland to be honest. I’ve never been a McCarthy fan.
“Brady is a loss because Brady would be in that team.
“If Hoolahan was there, I’m not sure he would be in the team.
“I’d be inclined to go with that midfield.”
Quotes via Irish Independent
The former RTE Sport pundit was also of the opinion that O’Neill should play two strikers up front. The manager has generally favoured a five-man midfield since taking over in 2013 but Giles believes that an more old-school approach could be called for against Wales.
If not, David Meyler’s performance should, apparently, see him start:
“[Meyler] could come into the running as well. It depends on what he is going to do with Shane Long.
“Is he going to be a lone striker or is Walters going to play as a midfield player?
“We haven’t played with two up front in recent times but I’d be inclined to play the two of them up front.”
Ireland trained with a full squad once again on Thursday as O’Neill prepares the squad for the match at the Aviva. McCarthy has resumed full training but it remains to be seen if he is risked from the start.
Watch below as we look ahead to the massive match between the Boys in Green and Wales this Friday.