Football

Harry Arter And David Meyler Impress, But Norwich Waste Talent Of Robbie Brady

Harry Arter And David Meyler Impress, But Norwich Waste Talent Of Robbie Brady

On Wednesday, Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland side take on the might of Oman in a pre-season friendly before diving into the qualification process for the 2018 World Cup with a tough trip to Serbia on 5th September. The FAI rather cheesily stated "Every legacy has a beginning" at the launch of the friendly game, which marks the sad departure of Robbie Keane from the international scene.

It also opens the door to a host of new players to establish themselves in O'Neill and Roy Keane's plans for the future. Players like Callum O'Dowda, Harry Arter and Eunan O'Kane. But mostly, it allows a squad of players who finished the summer on such a high to continue on the crest of a wave.

Let's see how they have all fared so far-and in particular on this weekend of fixtures.

Goalkeepers:

Darren Randolph-Not in the starting team for West Ham's clash with Manchester City on Sunday but looks set to feature in the cup competitions again this year. He played in two of the Europa League qualifiers this summer, conceding one goal.

Keiren Westwood-Has played in all five of his side's Championship games this season after heroics in last campaign. A 1-1 draw with Brentford today marked an improvement after two consecutive two-goal losses.

David Forde-After a distinguished period as Millwall's number one, is on loan at Portsmouth down in League Two and kept a clean sheet, his third in five games.

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Defenders:

Cyrus Christie-Started all but one of Derby's games this season, though they slipped to a 1-0 loss to Burton Albion last night.

Seamus Coleman-Ireland's on-field captain at Euro 2016 hasn't played so far this season because of an ankle injury; Everton manager Ronald Koeman stated last week that he won't return to action until early September.

Richard Keogh-Mainstay of Derby's defence so far this season. Four clean sheets in seven games indicates that Keogh is doing his job pretty well, even if his side's attacking players aren't (3 goals scored).

John O’Shea-Came off in the 37th minute of Sunderland's 2-1 loss to Middlesborough last week with a groin injury and faces a race against time to be fit for the Serbia match.

Alex Pearce-Was on the bench for Derby against Burton on Friday but started both of their Capital One Cup games. Looks set to become a bit-part player this season.

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Marc Wilson-Scored his first club goal in six years on Wednesday in the Capital One Cup but wasn't even in the squad for Bournemouth's trip to Crystal Palace.

Ciaran Clark-No doubt glad to get out of the self-filling cesspit at Aston Villa and has slotted in seamlessly at Newcastle, who carved out a 2-0 win at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Paul McShane-His prolific scoring run may have ended but nevertheless a clean sheet and a win for McShane's Reading who had shipped eight in their first four Championship games.

Stephen Ward-Brilliant last season, Ward was excellent last week against Liverpool but got a reality check today against Chelsea as The Clarets went down 3-0.

Midfielders: 

Robbie Brady-A good start to the season for Norwich until a heavy defeat at Birmingham today. Has been mostly operating in midfield but seems to have moved back into defence this weekend, an unfortunate coincidence.

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James McCarthy-Had a slight groin injury but his absence from the Everton squad this weekend still raised questions after he was substituted in the first half of last week's game against West Brom.

Jeff Hendrick-Missed Derby's latest match with a hamstring injury after limping off two weeks ago against Barnsley. But expected to be fit for the trip to Serbia.

Harry Arter-Put a silly sending-off last week behind him to produce a solid display for Bournemouth in a 1-1 draw away to Crystal Palace.

Eunan O'Kane-Arter's clubmate hasn't featured at all for Eddie Howe's side this season amidst speculation that he is wanted by clubs such as Leeds and Wigan

Glenn Whelan-Started all three of Stoke's Premier League games so far. As consistent as ever.

David Meyler-Played in all of Hull City's games this season, and that looks set to continue (it's not like they have many other options). Nearly helped his side to an incredible 0-0 draw against Man Utd (no irony intended).

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Stephen Quinn-Struggling for game time at Reading but came on for the last half hour today.

Aiden McGeady-Has been told by Ronald Koeman to leave Everton if he "likes to play football" and stripped of his squad number. Needs a club soon if he doesn't want his international career to dwindle even further.

James McClean-As industrious as ever under Tony Pulis at West Brom. Not expected to start tomorrow against Middlesborough but will come on as a substitute after an hour or so.

Callum O’Dowda-Has been flitting between the bench and the starting line-up for Bristol City, but always plays. Not bad considering they are sixth in the Championship. Going well.

Wessi Hoolahan-A goal and two assists in the Championship so far for the little magician, but his Norwich side got well beaten away at Birmingham today.

Forwards:

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Robbie Keane (Oman game only)-The great man has bagged three goals and an assist since returning to the MLS after the Euros but didn't feature in LA Galaxy's game on Thursday. Ah, how we'll cry on Wednesday.

Shane Long-Yet to take off this season but trying hard, as ever. Came on as a sub today and faces a battle with Austin, Rodriguez and Tadic to keep his place in the Southampton side.

Daryl Murphy-Confirmed today as Newcastle's latest signing so didn't play against Preston for Ipswich. Had started all four of their games, failing to hit the net.

Jon Walters-Came on as a second half substitute for Stoke today as he has done in all three of their games so far. Will be raring to go on September 5th having been less than fully fit at the Euros.

All in all, a fairly unremarkable day at the office for the Republic of Ireland squad. At least if Shay Given was still in the squad we would have had something interesting to write about.

See also: Shay Given Set A Miserable Premier League Record This Afternoon

Conall Cahill

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