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What Ireland's Euro 2016 Squad Looks Like After The All-Important Friendlies

What Ireland's Euro 2016 Squad Looks Like After The All-Important Friendlies
By Gary Reilly Updated

UPDATE: At lunchtime on Thursday May 12th, Martin O'Neill will name his squad for the friendly against the Netherlands at the end of the month. While we'll no doubt get another hefty squad from the Irish boss, today should give us the first real insight into how the final 23 man squad will shape up.

With that in mind, we've decided to take a look back at the our predicted squad following the friendlies against Switzerland and Slovakia.

We're in the final stretch now. It's almost April and the smell of France is wafting over to these shores more and more by the day. Two moderately impressive displays against Euro 2016 level opposition and the spirits have stayed as high as ever. But, the big question remains, who makes Martin O'Neill's final squad after the big audition of the past week.

It's never easy to second guess the Ireland boss but we've had a go nonetheless.

Goalkeepers 

The news from the morning after the night before is that Rob Elliot will be out for up to six months with a knee injury and he'll now definitely miss this summer's tournament. He went into these games with a damn good chance of pushing for a starting spot in France and he leaves with the cruelest blow imaginable. It was absolutely rotten luck for a player that has waited so patiently for his opportunity at the highest level.

Now we know that Elliot is out, it means that 1) Shay Given (injury dependent) will definitely be heading along to the Euros and 2) despite the fact that Kieran Westwood deserves the other spot, David Forde will likely head along in the Alan Kelly role of third choice keeper.

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Defence

As harsh as it sounds, it's unlikely Paul McShane will be heading along after his performance against Slovakia. Whereas McShane failed to grasp his opportunity, Shane Duffy and to a lesser extent Ciaran Clark grabbed their with both hands.

The fact that O'Neill opted against giving Richard Keogh a run out over the past week would suggest that the Derby man had nothing to prove, he's already on the plane alongside John O'Shea. Joining those two will be Seamus Coleman, while Cyrus 'the Irish Cafu' Christie is surely also ready to pack his bags after Tuesday's performance. And while, he it was another average showing from Stephen Ward, he has little competition outside Robbie Brady for the left back slot.

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That more than likely leaves two centre back slots open and, although it's harsh on Marc Wilson, you'd have to say that Clark and Duffy deserve to go ahead of the injured Stoke man. Even before his injury, Wilson was finding it difficult to force his way into Mark Hughes' side and with Clark and Duffy performing so ably against the Swiss, it's difficult to see how Wilson will be able to get the game time he needs between now and May to convince O'Neill that he should go along.

Midfield

They were billed as the Alan Judge friendlies last week and with good reason. Everyone wanted to see the Dubliner come into the squad and give O'Neill something to think about. Unfortunately for Judge, the possibility that he might be a square peg in a round hole was not exactly blown out of the water. Stuck out on the right of the midfield diamond against Switzerland, he didn't have the kind of impact on the game that he would have wanted.

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By no means was it a poor showing but the problem is that, with Jeff Hendrick having filled that roll so comfortably and Eunan O'Kane putting his head above the parapet very impressively, it looks like Judge's form for Brentford will not be enough to push him ahead of a glut of central midfielders vying for, at most, six spots on the plane.

That brings us on to O'Kane. Coming in to these friendlies, many would have thought, he'd be doing well to make it get ten minutes under his belt. However, a 30 minute runout against Switzerland was followed by a very impressive display from the start against Slovakia and, all of a sudden, he's very much in contention for the final 23. The only problem is the fact that, once fit, there's already a Bournemouth midfielder standing in his way.

Harry Arter is made for that midfield diamond slot alongside James McCarthy. As adept as he is on the ball, Arter also brings the football intelligence (or should that be diligence) that Martin O'Neill looks for in his midfielders. The same can be said of O'Kane but with a little over a month of the Premier League campaign remaining, we're going to make the assumption that Arter once again stands out in Eddie Howe's midfield, is giving a chance to impress against the Dutch and makes the final 23.

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Alongside him, we're going to say that David Meyler just about did enough against Switzerland to convince O'Neill he's the utility midfielder to take along while Aiden McGeady just about holds on to the impact sub role.

Attack

The only part of the squad that we can all guess with a fair bit of certainty. Barring injury, it's Long, Walters, Keane and Murphy. Now let's just hope Long and Walters in particular are wrapped up in cotton wool between now and the end of the Premier League season. And as interested in him as we may all be, it's surely too late for Scott Hogan to make a play this time around. We'll leave that one to the World Cup qualifiers.

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Predicted Irish squad for Euro 2016

See also: Ireland Player Ratings From An Unusually Fun Friendly Vs Slovakia

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