Football

Predicting Stephen Kenny's 24-Man Ireland Squad For Slovakia Play-Off

Predicting Stephen Kenny's 24-Man Ireland Squad For Slovakia Play-Off

Ireland's Euro 2020 fate could be sealed in only two weeks. In exactly 14 days time, Stephen Kenny's side will face Slovakia in their Euro 2020 play-off semi-final in Bratislava, where a defeat would ensure Ireland will not be taking part in the finals next summer.

It would be a killer blow, especially with the promise of two group games in Dublin should they qualify. While this fixture was never meant to be the responsibility of the current manager, there is little doubt that Kenny will be desperate to secure a positive result.

What squad he chooses to do so remains unclear.

He called up a number of new players for the games against Bulgaria and Finland earlier this month. The results in this fixtures were not what he would have hoped for, but there were signs of improvement going forward.

He will be hoping his players can take their game to the next level for this game. Below we have predicted the 24-man squad Kenny will select for the Slovakia game, as well as the UEFA Nations League matches against Wales and Finland.

Goalkeepers

The goalkeepers in this squad all but pick themselves. Darren Randolph is still very much Ireland's number one, while Mark Travers has established himself as second choice over the last 18 months or so.

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Caoimhin Kelleher acted as third choice earlier this month, but with the U21s set to play a key qualifier against Italy, we suspect Kenny will recall Burton Albion's Kieran O'Hara to fill that role on this occasion.

Image credit: Sportsfile

 

Defenders

There are a number of guaranteed selections in the defence. Matt Doherty and Seamus Coleman will be the two right backs in the squad, while John Egan and Shane Duffy will resume their partnership at centre back in Slovakia.

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Enda Stevens is also a certainty to be included. After that, things are less clear.

Darragh Lenihan was the third choice centre back earlier this month and we think he will continue in that role due to the fact that Ciaran Clark is still working his way back from injury and Dara O'Shea should play a key role for the U21s.

Stevens was the only left back in the squad last time, but we assume he will not be asked to play three games in a week next month. Despite his current club situation, Ryan Manning is the obvious choice to fill the backup role.

 

Midfielders

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Stephen Kenny started six different midfielders in the two fixtures earlier this month, perhaps suggesting he has yet to settle on his first choice trio in that area of the pitch.

James McCarthy, Jeff Hendrick, Conor Hourihane (the trio who started the game in Bulgaria) will be included. Harry Arter is likely in that boat as well, as is Robbie Brady, assuming his current injury concern does not rule him out.

Jayson Molumby has yet to feature for Brighton this season, something that could count against him. However, Kenny is a huge fan and the player could leave the club on loan in the coming days. We expect he will be in the squad.

Image credit: Sportsfile

That leaves one spot, previously occupied by Alan Browne. It was perhaps telling that he was the only midfielder that did not feature in the previous two fixtures, which could suggest his place is under threat.

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Enter Jack Byrne, who has brushed off recent injury concerns to regain his form. Stephen Kenny was on hand to see his exemplary performance against AC Milan, and could only have come away impressed. He offers something different to the squad, something that the Ireland boss has to consider after some lacklustre midfield play in recent games.

 

Forwards/Wingers

David McGoldrick will likely start in Bratislava after brushing off his recent injury concerns, with Adam Idah included on the bench.

Aaron Connolly has a tight grip on the left wing position after some strong performances at club and international level, with James McClean set to deputise.

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Callum O'Dowda still hasn't recovered from the injury he suffered against Finland, but should be included in the squad if he is fit. Callum Robinson will be another option on the right wing.

Sean Maguire was left out of the original squad last time around, while Troy Parrott is currently struggling his his fitness. With Michael Obafemi and James Collins seemingly out of favour, that leaves Shane Long to occupy the final forward spot.

 

The Squad In Full

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Mark Travers, Kieran O'Hara.

Defenders: Matt Doherty, Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, John Egan, Darragh Lenihan, Enda Stevens, Ryan Manning.

Midfielders: James McCarthy, Harry Arter, Jeff Hendrick, Conor Hourihane, Robbie Brady, Jayson Molumby, Jack Byrne.

Forwards: David McGoldrick, Adam Idah, Aaron Connolly, James McClean, Callum O'Dowda, Callum Robinson, Shane Long.

See Also: Mick McCarthy: Big Jack Illuminated Ireland For Almost 10 Years

Mick McCarthy

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