Ireland are looking for their first win since November 2019.
Stephen Kenny will be hoping to register his first win as Ireland boss in his 10th game in charge. Ireland fell to a 3-2 defeat against Serbia on Wednesday night, a match that featured some positive aspects for Ireland, but was ultimately disappointing.
Ireland simply must beat Luxembourg, the lowest-ranked team in Group A, to stand any chance of reaching the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Here is the team Kenny should pick for the World Cup qualifier.
Ireland team to play Luxembourg – Goalkeeper.
Gavin Bazunu should start ahead of Mark Travers and Kieran O’Hara in goal.
Travers was given a brutal introduction to international football when he was chipped by Aleksandar Mitrovic for Serbia’s second goal.
The Bournemouth goalkeeper, 21, appeared hesitant and unsure in the match, which isn’t a surprise given that he was making his first competitive start for Ireland. Travers may get another chance, but Kenny should use the Luxembourg match as an opportunity to give Bazunu his Ireland debut.
The Manchester City goalkeeper has played 28 times on loan with League One side Rochdale this season. He also has experience of first-team football from his time with Shamrock Rovers.
Bazunu is just 19 but has a very high talent ceiling. Kenny probably won’t get a better chance to give Bazunu his competitive debut.
Ireland team to play Luxembourg – Defence.
In defence, Kenny should opt for the same back three that start against Serbia – Seamus Coleman, Dara O’Shea and Ciaran Clark. There is an argument to suggest that the Ireland manager, who had five substitutions available, should have brought Shane Duffy on to combat the aerial threat from Serbia, particularly when Mitrovic came on.
Yet, otherwise, the Ireland back-three played relatively well and Kenny should opt for the trio again, even if Luxembourg won’t post the same threat as Serbia. O’Shea’s passing from the back, in particular, was a plus point from the match.
At wing-back, Matt Doherty and Enda Stevens retain their sports. Both are natural wing-backs and they warrant another opportunity in the position to stake their claim for Ireland to retain this formation going forward.
Doherty, in particular, looked much more comfortable at wing-back against Serbia than he has in any game at full-back for Ireland.
Ireland team to play Luxembourg – Midfield.
In midfield, it’s the same three that started the match against Serbia – Josh Cullen, Jayson Molumby and Alan Browne.
Cullen impressed in spells against Serbia and could be the deep-lying, controlling midfielder Kenny will require to implement his more proactive style of football.
The Anderlecht midfielder is calm and tidy in possession but also worked hard alongside Molumby, who should also retain his position. Molumby looked physically depleted when he was substituted for Jeff Hendrick after an hour.
However, Molumby was busy and aggressive when he was on the pitch, and Ireland arguably lost their shape after he was taken off. Browne retains his spot after scoring Ireland’s first goal in over 11 hours.
Ireland team to play Luxembourg – Forwards.
Upfront, this team features Callum Robinson and James Collins. Robinson deservedly retains his place after an encouraging performance against Serbia. The West Brom forward created Ireland’s opening goal with a brilliant piece of play, creating space in the Serbia penalty area before floating an inch-perfect cross for Browne to head home.
Besides that goal involvement, Robinson worked tirelessly all night. He started Ireland’s press and helped relieve pressure on occasion. He was proactive, enterprising and skilful.
Robinson’s performance contrasted sharply with that of Aaron Connolly, his strike-partner on the night. Connolly’s decision making and work rate in the match were both questionable. The Brighton forward, however, won’t the chance to make amends against Luxembourg and has been ruled out through injury.
James Collins scored against Serbia, and he is included in this team because he offers something different to Ireland’s other forwards.
The Luton Town forward is a traditional target-man, and with Luxembourg likely to sit deep, Ireland will need more than one avenue to goal.
Here is the team, playing in the 3-5-2 formation.
However, if Kenny opts for 4-3-3, a formation he has used frequently in the past, here is the team he could pick.
Coleman returns to right-back, with Doherty dropping out. Robbie Brady comes into the team on the left-wing.