Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has named his Ireland squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Serbia and Luxembourg later this month.
The playing pool available to Kenny has been limited by injuries to a number of players. The likes of Darren Randolph, John Egan, Michael Obafemi, and Adam Idah are all unavailable due to a variety of ailments.
However, Aaron Connolly has been included despite missing Brighton's last few games due to a cracked rib. James McClean and Callum O'Dowda have also made the cut despite their recent layoffs.
There is no place for the likes of James McCarthy, Scott Hogan, or Marcus Harness.
There is also a first call-up for goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, with the 19-year old putting in some very impressive performances for Rochdale while on loan from Manchester City this season. Liverpool's Caoimhín Kelleher has also been included despite a recent fitness issue and looks likely to make his debut against Serbia in the absence of Randolph.
Here is the squad in full:
Squad announced for FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers
29-player squad named for the three matches with first senior call-up for Gavin Bazunu 👏
24/03 | 🇷🇸 v 🇮🇪
27/03 | 🇮🇪 v 🇱🇺
30/03 | 🇶🇦 v 🇮🇪#COYBIG pic.twitter.com/JMJN0VNsGo
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) March 18, 2021
29 players have included in all, with the Ireland boss presumably picking a larger squads due to the injury and covid issues that hampered the side over the second half of last year.
Dara O'Shea, Shane Duffy, Kevin Long, and Ciaran Clark are Kenny's choices at centre back, while Ryan Manning will act as deputy left back behind Enda Stevens.
The inclusion of Cyrus Christie perhaps hints that Kenny may look to start both Seamus Coleman and Matt Doherty in the upcoming games.
Josh Cullen's fine form at Anderlecht has been rewarded with a place in the squad and he could be set to make his first competitive start for the country. The likes of Jeff Hendrick, Conor Hourihane, and Jason Knight are the other midfield options.
Considering the lack of goals thus far in the Kenny era, there will be plenty of pressure on forwards Callum Robinson, Shane Long, James Collins, and Troy Parrott to find the back of the net in the upcoming fixtures.
Ireland will travel to Belgrade to take on Serbia on March 24th, where a positive result would go a long way to positioning them nicely for the rest of the campaign.
They then host Luxembourg three days later, before travelling to Budapest for a friendly against Qatar on March 30th.