Football

Predicting Mick McCarthy's 23-Man Ireland Squad For Slovakia Play-Off

Predicting Mick McCarthy's 23-Man Ireland Squad For Slovakia Play-Off

Not long to go now. While the news that Ireland's Euro 2020 play-off against will be played behind closed doors came as a huge disappointment to supporters, the fixture is still set to go ahead.

That could change in the coming days, but for now it looks like Ireland's Euro 2020 destiny will be decided over the next few weeks.

Mick McCarthy names his squad this Friday, March 13th, and there is plenty of intrigue as to who will be included. We aren't expecting many changes from what we have seen up to this point in the campaign, but we could see a couple of new faces.

To be clear, this is the squad we expect Mick McCarthy to pick, not the one we think he should select. There are a couple of other players that we would include if given the choice. However, we feel Mick won't agree, especially when he said that this is not a game for fresh faces.

Here's the 23-man squad we anticipate will be named in Dublin this Friday:

Predicted Ireland Squad To Face Slovakia

Goalkeepers

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Darren Randolph

Nothing to see here. Despite being second choice at West Ham over the past couple of months, Randolph is certain to start in Bratislava.

Mark Travers & Kieran O'Hara

We can't imagine anything has changed in relation to the other goalkeepers in the squad. Travers and O'Hara have acted as backup to Randolph under McCarthy, with Caoimhin Kelleher and Gavin Bazunu likely to be part of Stephen Kenny's U21 squad.

Defenders

Matt Doherty

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Doherty will be given the opportunity to play after Seamus Coleman's injury, and in all honesty he should have started regardless.

Cyrus Christie

With Coleman out, Christie should make the squad as deputy right back. We think McCarthy will only pick one left back, as he has done in recent squads, meaning Christie will also act as cover on that side of the defence.

Shane Duffy

Duffy hasn't been a key contributor for Brighton this season but that won't diminish his status in the Ireland team.

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John Egan

Certain to start alongside Duffy, Egan has been in fantastic form at club level.

Kevin Long

Long has played two minutes of league football this season, but with Ciaran Clark ruled out, his place in the squad should be secure.

Darragh Lenihan

Lenihan has been somewhat unfortunate with injuries under McCarthy, but he has really kicked on with Blackburn this season. Deserves his spot.

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Enda Stevens

A certainty to start, although Mick McCarthy will be slightly concerned after a couple of niggles in recent weeks.

Central Midfielders

Glenn Whelan

Mick McCarthy has all but confirmed that Whelan will be starting the game.

Jeff Hendrick

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Hendrick's form has dipped after a decent period at the turn of the year, but he has started every game of the campaign thus far. That is likely to continue in Slovakia.

Conor Hourihane

Having started the first few qualifiers, Hourihane dropped out of the team by the end of the group. That has coincided with a lack of opportunities at Aston Villa, but he will still be part of the travelling party.

Alan Browne

Browne played himself into the team for the last couple of games and will be favourite to start in a midfield three.

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James McCarthy

McCarthy has experienced a remarkable renaissance at Crystal Palace in recent months. He should certainly be in the squad and probably should start based on current form. We have our doubts that Mick will play him from the beginning, but he has to be on the bench at least.

Josh Cullen

A fixture in the squad up to this point, Cullen has continued his strong form with Charlton since returning from a recent injury layoff.

Forwards/Wingers

Callum Robinson

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Having struggled somewhat during the first half of the season, Robinson has been in fantastic form since his move to West Brom. He now looks set to play a key part in the Slovakia game.

David McGoldrick

McGoldrick will start this game, even if he is no longer an automatic starter at club level. He has earned the right to be in the Ireland team with some fantastic performances over the eight group games.

Robbie Brady

Not a major player at Burnley this season, but Brady will likely make the squad due to a lack of wingers available to McCarthy.

Jack Byrne

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Byrne will be an excellent option to have on the bench if Ireland are chasing a goal in the game. He has shown he is capable of producing a moment of magic that can decide a game, most recently in Shamrock Rovers' win over Dundalk. We can't afford to leave a player like that sitting at home.

Sean Maguire

Capable of playing both through the middle and out wide, Maguire is a certainty to be on the plane.

Scott Hogan

It's unlikely that Hogan would have made the cut a couple of months ago, but his form since the move to Birmingham City is too strong to ignore. He has scored eight goals in eight Championship games.

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With Ireland lacking goals throughout the campaign, he has certainly done enough to at least make the bench.

Shane Long

He's back. Shane Long fell out of favour last year, but Mick McCarthy has to include him here. His experience could be vital, having been part of big results for Ireland in the past.

Squad In Full

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

DEF: Matt Doherty, Cyrus Christie, Shane Duffy, Kevin Long, Darragh Lenihan, Enda Stevens.

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CM: Glenn Whelan, Jeff Hendrick, Conor Hourihane, Alan Browne, James McCarthy, Jack Byrne, Josh Cullen.

FWD: Callum Robinson, David McGoldrick, Robbie Brady, Sean Maguire, Scott Hogan, Shane Long.

There are a number of players who would be unlucky to miss out. Jayson Molumby would make most commentator's squad, but McCarthy has not seemed keen on including the 20-year old. The same could also be said of Michael Obafemi.

Mick has also seemingly ruled out the prospect of Aaron Connolly being included after the reduction in his playing time at Brighton.

The Ireland manager may also opt to gamble on the fitness of James McClean, but having yet to return to full training with his club, he looks unlikely to be fit enough to feature.

All will be revealed on Friday afternoon...

SEE ALSO: Huge Montenegro Win Leaves Ireland On Brink Of Making Euros History

Gary Connaughton

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