NewsNow

How Many Irish Players Would Actually Get Into The Wales Starting XI?

How Many Irish Players Would Actually Get Into The Wales Starting XI?

Hello, is that rent-a-quote? What's the best deal you can do on Robbie Savage this week?

That may or may not be an accurate representation of real world events. We don't know and quite frankly we don't want to know. Sometimes you just don't want to pull the curtain back too far.

And to be fair to Savage, when you take him at face value, he's not a bad chap. At times, you could even venture to say that he's entertaining in his role as the court jester of football punditry. You'll never get detailed tactical insight from him but that's okay, he is what he is and he's made a good living out of it. Fair play to him.

This week, Savage turned his attention to Ireland in the wake of one of our most disappointing international breaks in recent memory. Savage suggested that only Seamus Coleman would get into Wales' starting XI and, we've decided to bite. With a balanced and rational look at the two squads, which Ireland players would actually benefit Wales and vice versa?

It must be said that Wales often play three at the back but, to keep some semblance of fairness, we've tried to find as balanced a team as possible so it's a rather bland 4-3-3 that we'll try and shoehorn everyone into.

Goalkeeper

Advertisement

Wayne Hennessey is blessed on two fronts. On one hand, he's lucky that Palace have somehow been unable to find a better keeper and he's also blessed that Jurgen Klopp has decided to keep Danny Ward as a third choice keeper at Liverpool this season.

Having said that, Darren Randolph's form has been patchy of late and West Ham were always likely to replace him this summer. Although, whether they have actually improved with Joe Hart is very much up for debate. Not only that, Rob Elliot is back from injury and starting for Newcastle so Randolph is looking over his shoulder with Ireland as well.

In truth, neither Randolph nor Hennessey may be the best keeper on their respective national teams but they're first choice at the moment so that's who we need to pick from. It's a toss of a coin on this one and we wouldn't blame a Welsh fan for crying home town decision here.

Our pick: Darren Randolph

Defence

Advertisement

We love a bit of Stephen Ward but Ben Davies has the left back slot sewn up here despite the fact that he's often used as Wales' third centre back.

In the centre Savage was certain that Shane Duffy wouldn't get in over Ashley Williams and we're inclined to agree with him despite the fact that Williams now looks half the player he was  at Swansea. Savage is however, ignoring the fact that Ciaran Clark has been Ireland's in form central defender over the past year so he gets the nod ahead of the likes of James Chester.

As Savage himself conceded, a fit Seamus Coleman is one of the first names on the teamsheet.

Our picks: Ben Davies, Ashley Williams, Ciaran Clark, Seamus Coleman

Midfield 

Advertisement

Ireland would be blessed to have Aaron Ramsey or Joe Allen in midfield, there's no point pretending otherwise. Arter, Hendrick, Brady, Meyler and Wessi are a level below both of them if we're being honest.

The holding midfield position is slightly more difficult to pick. Glenn Whelan's performance against Georgia was nothing short of abysmal so we're going to jump in a time machine and take a look at James McCarthy's performance against Germany in the Aviva. When he's been trusted in that holding midfield role on his own, the Everton man has put in his best performances for Ireland so, assuming he could replicate that here, we're giving him the nod.

Our picks: James McCarthy, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen

Attack

Jon Walters vs Gareth Bale is probably not the most difficult call we had to make so that's one side of the pitch covered. On the other flank, James McClean has been Ireland's best player for much of this qualification campaign so we can't leave him out despite the fact that we're not convinced he'd want to replicate his passion in this bastardised Ireland/Wales team. Except for Ben Woodburn, there's not a huge amount of competition for this place given that Wales rarely play two wide attackers but, give it a year or two and the young Liverpool player may soon be one of the first names on the teamsheet.

Advertisement

Shane Long over Hal Robson-Kanu or Sam Vokes? Possibly not.

That was Savage's opinion and he's talking out his arse on that one. In truth, Long is very much a confidence player and he's been woefully short of that for some time now. He's still head and shoulders above Vokes and Robson-Kanu though.

Our pick: Gareth Bale, James McClean, Shane Long

Ireland x Wales Starting XI

Genuinely, we've tried to be as fair as possible here. Randolph vs Hennessey is essentially a 50/50 call so you could say it's 5 and half players each. Despite the fact that we were abysmal against Georgia and mediocre at best against Serbia, there's not that much to split Ireland and Wales in terms of personnel. If Wales do make it through to the play-offs and subsequently to Russia, you'd have to say a lot of that would come down to management and the manner in which Chris Coleman has them playing football.

Not something we can always say about Ireland under Martin O'Neill...

Gary Reilly

You may also like