Football

The Ireland Team We Want To See Start Against Georgia... And The One That Probably Will

The Ireland Team We Want To See Start Against Georgia... And The One That Probably Will

Our Euro 2020 fate will go a long way to being decided over the next week. The game in Switzerland next Tuesday may be the more daunting task, but the match in Georgia is arguably more important.

A win in that one will leave Ireland right on course for qualification, with even a loss against the Swiss not the end of the world should they get three points in Tbilisi.

It's a massive game, and here's the team we want to see start. Of course we think Mick McCarthy may have other ideas, so we have named the team we think will actually start the game as well.

There's a couple of position where we will likely disagree with the Ireland manager.

The Team We Want To See Start

Formation: 4-3-3

Mick McCarthy has used 4-3-3, 4-5-1, and 4-4-2 at various points throughout this campaign, but we would go with the most attacking option for this game. Considering a win is a must, getting forward should be the goals from the outset.

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GK: Darren Randolph

Not much room for debate here. Even if Middlesbrough have faltered this season, Randolph remains Ireland's best option between the posts.

RB: Seamus Coleman

Coleman has played well as of late, despite his red card at the weekend. He has looked threatening going forward, while also acting as Everton's most reliable defender.

Considering a slot may have opened up for a certain Wolves player on the left of the defence, there is little pressure on Coleman's place in the team.

CB: Kevin Long

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This is less than ideal. Shane Duffy has been Ireland's best player over the last two years, meaning his absence has left a glaring hole in the defence.

With Richard Keogh also out, Kevin Long will come into the team. Darragh Lenihan is the only other option, and while he has played well for Blackburn as Long sat on the Burnley bench, his lack of international experience is a concern.

We would go for Long, but more out of necessity than choice.

CB: John Egan

There are no such worries about the other central defender in this team. John Egan's absence from the starting XI has been puzzling throughout this campaign, with the Sheffield United man putting in another stellar performance at the weekend against Watford.

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He is maybe Ireland's most in-form player and this is hopefully the start of a long run in the starting team.

LB: Matt Doherty

With Enda Stevens absent due to suspension, Matt Doherty is the ideal deputy. He may have thrived at right wingback for Wolves, but he has plenty of experience operating at left back.

Operating on that side of the pitch should allow him to cut in from the left flank, especially when you consider we should see a fair bit of the ball in Tbilisi. He will be challenged defensively, but going forward he will be a huge threat.

DM: Josh Cullen

With Switzerland on the agenda three days after this one, we wouldn't expect Glenn Whelan to feature in Georgia. That may not be a bad thing, with Cullen putting in a man-of-the-match performance in his debut against Bulgaria last month.

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Considering how Whelan struggled for much of the game against the Swiss, a big performance from Cullen in this one will put him in contention to start in Geneva.

CM: Conor Hourihane

After being largely overlooked at Aston Villa to start the season, Hourihane has been in excellent form as of late. He scored one, assisted another, and won a penalty as Villa hammered Norwich at the weekend.

With Ireland having famously struggled to keep the ball in past trips to Georgia, Hourihane will be the man tasked with getting the team passing the ball. Best of luck...

CM: Jeff Hendrick

It has been a mixed campaign for Jeff Hendrick. He has shown flashes of major promise, but has also frustrated at times. If he can become more consistent, he will be a lot closer to the player we thought we had on our hands after Euro 2016.

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RW: Callum Robinson

Robinson could start through the middle due to McGoldrick's absence, but keeping him out wide makes this a more attacking front three.

He was not his usual lively self against Switzerland, which may have had something to do with the niggling injury that affected him in the buildup to the game. He is quick, direct, and clever in his movement. He needs to be in the team.

LW: Aaron Connolly

Get him in the team. When is the last time you saw an Irish player score a goal like Aaron Connolly did at the weekend? He is everything this team has been lacking.

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McCarthy will be hesitant to throw such a young player in at the deep end, but he is here on merit. He has done far more than the likes of Scott Hogan or James McClean have this season.

Aaron Connolly may be the future, but he is also the present. If the Georgians saw what he did to the Champions League finalists at the Amex Stadium last weekend, they will be terrified at the thought of lining up against him.

ST: James Collins

It's a tossup between James Collins and Sean Maguire for us here, but Collins gets the nod due to his form this season. He is a more physical presence than Maguire, and was massively impressive during his debut against Bulgaria.

He would be a handful for the home side, although we certainly would not object to Maguire starting in his stead.

The Team In Full:

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... And The One That Probably Will

We expect McCarthy will pick a team largely similar to this one. The back four looks like a certainty, as does two of the midfield three.

McCarthy would probably like to play Whelan, but it is likely he will hold him back for the Switzerland game. Cullen is an able deputy, and a big performance could make him difficult to drop.

It is up front we are likely to see a bit of variation. James McClean will start, as has been heavily hinted. The Ireland boss is a huge fan of his, despite his lack of impact in attack. His work rate cannot be questioned, but Aaron Connolly has been far superior to the Stoke man this season. Still, we doubt Mick will see it that way.

Elsewhere, McCarthy's obsession with Scott Hogan also lives on. He actually scored at the weekend, so that would seem like the perfect excuse to get him in the team. He would seem to be ahead of both Collins and Maguire in the manager's mind, and that is unlikely to have changed over the past month.

The Team In Full:

SEE ALSO: Phil Neville's Son Harvey Included In Ireland U19 Squad

Gary Connaughton

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