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Kenny Cunningham's Team To Face Italy Features Some Curious Changes

Kenny Cunningham's Team To Face Italy Features Some Curious Changes
By PJ Browne
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Various reports in the Irish media this week suggest that Martin O'Neill will ring the changes for his starting XI against Italy tomorrow night.

The thought of elimination will apparently bring out the ruthless streak in O'Neill with the Irish Sun saying that even captain John O'Shea will be cut. Others likely to lose out include James McCarthy, Ciaran Clark and Stephen Ward.

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On RTÉ's Euro 2016 highlights show this evening, both Mark Kinsella and Kenny Cunningham chose the teams they believed would give Ireland the three points which they require against Italy.

Cunningham's team, at this particular moment in time, would play to Ireland's strengths. This is not the time to get the ball down and play, he believes.

From the team which was hammered by Belgium, out go Clark, McCarthy and Hoolahan and in come Duffy, McClean and Murphy.

Logical reasons why I'm going for this team; you look at that front three, it's got bags of pace a physicality.

That midfield three is maybe a window into the future. Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick playing in those attacking midfield positions. That's five attack-minded players I have in midfield in forward areas of the pitch. That's as positive for me as you can get.

Obviously with the defensive mindset, I've gone for Glenn Whelan in behind.

I've gone for Duffy at centre-half. That might be tough on Richard Keogh, in particular, because he doesn't get any game time.

Seven of the outfield players are six-foot and over. I think that's going to be relevant tomorrow. If the Italians don't play Chiellini and Bonucci - their two best headers of the ball - that team is going to give us a huge advantage in height and that's going to play its part in set pieces.

Here's Cunningham's team.

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