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Do you agree with our 40-man Ireland squad to face Turkey?

Martin O’Neill has promised to experiment with younger players for the game later this month.

Sean Maguire is expected to be included in Ireland's upcoming squad to face Turkey.
Sean Maguire is expected to be included in Ireland's upcoming squad to face Turkey.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL HAS promised to experiment with younger players as Irish football gets set for a new era.

After the disappointing World Cup play-off loss to Denmark last November, the Boys in Green have a chance to give more inexperienced individuals a chance ahead of their opening Nations League match in September.

With that in mind, we’ve picked our own 40-man selection ahead of Martin O’Neill’s provisional squad announcement this Thursday afternoon, with the Turkey match taking place in Antalya on 23 March.

Goalkeepers

Darren Randolph is a dead cert, given that he’s back playing regularly at Middlesbrough after moving there from West Ham last summer.

Rob Elliot has made 16 appearances for Newcastle in the Premier League this season, but has not made an appearance for the Magpies since the turn of the year. However, Irish goalkeepers with top-flight experience are few and far between, so he deserves to keep his place despite a lack of game time recently.

Keiren Westwood is injured and unlikely to be in contention, while Colin Doyle has been a regular for Bradford in League One this season and is likely to make the cut, as Ireland don’t have many options in terms of goalkeepers under 30.

Ian Lawlor has received some game time at Doncaster but recently lost his place in the starting XI, while Daniel Rogers has made a handful of appearances for Aberdeen. Kieran O’Hara, who was included in Man United’s squad to face Chelsea recently, is arguably the best young prospect available, despite still being some way off a starting spot at Old Trafford.

Defenders

One area where Ireland are not short of options is centre-back. Youngsters such as Declan Rice and Darragh Lenihan could be included here, with the duo’s versatility potentially coming in handy, as both can play midfield.

Lenihan has just returned from a long-term injury and has gone straight back into a Blackburn side who are on course for a return to the Championship at the first attempt, as they sit top of League One currently. 19-year-old Rice, meanwhile, has frequently been superb when given the chance in the Premier League, appearing 23 times in all competitions for West Ham’s senior team.

Some new full-backs also deserve a chance — Greg Cunningham, Enda Stevens and Matt Doherty have all been consistently excellent in the Championship of late, and so certainly warrant inclusion.

John O’Shea, at 36, is not expected to commit to another campaign, while 32-year-old Paul McShane is another player who certainly can’t be considered ‘one for the future’.

A game such as the Turkey fixture represents the best possible chance to introduce younger players into the set-up, so Liverpool’s 19-year-old centre-back Conor Masterson, another defender who is capable of playing midfield and who is highly thought of at Anfield, could also be in with a chance of featuring. While he is unlikely to feature in a competitive match imminently, there would be certainly no harm of bringing a player of his potential along for the experience.

Midfield

With Glenn Whelan expected to retire, Wes Hoolahan hanging up his boots, as well as Robbie Brady and James McCarthy out with long-term injuries, Ireland’s midfield is bound to have a somewhat unfamiliar look.

Alan Browne, who has been in fine form of late, certainly deserves a chance, as does Conor Hourihane, who has scored nine goals in 31 Championship appearances for Aston Villa this season. Callum O’Dowda, who has not played since November owing to injury, could be back in time for the Turkey trip.

Alan Judge, meanwhile, has made a couple of substitute appearances for Brentford, having returned to action in January following a leg break suffered in April 2016. The Dubliner is the type of creative player Ireland could do with at his best, particularly in light of Hoolahan’s absence. Similarly, 22-year-old Liam Kelly has been impressing with Reading for a while now and looks to be another player with potential to slot into the ‘Wes role’.

The likes of Jeff Hendrick, James McClean, Harry Arter and David Meyler — who is facing an uncertain future at club level — should add experience to the squad.

There is scope too for a couple of wildcards — Richie Towell has been in excellent form for Rotherham and certainly has the talent to play at a higher level than League One. 20-year-old Connor Ronan is considered one of Ireland’s best prospects and has been getting some game time at senior level, after joining Portsmouth on loan from Wolves.

And finally, Josh Cullen has already made a handful of appearances for West Ham and has been an important player for Noel King’s U21 side, who have picked up some impressive results of late.

Other youngsters, meanwhile, such as Jack Byrne, Chris Forrester, Ryan Manning and Patrick McEleney probably have yet to do enough at club level to merit inclusion. The prospect of O’Neill turning to players in the League of Ireland, as he once did for then-Dundalk duo Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan, also appears unlikely.

Attackers

Not an area where Ireland are blessed with an abundance of talent at the moment, so unless someone like the Irish-eligible Patrick Bamford makes himself available, don’t expect to see too much in the way of change from previous squads. With Daryl Murphy retired, Cillian Sheridan might finally be given a chance to add to the three caps he won in 2010.

Sean Maguire’s two goals at the weekend provide some encouragement, while it’s likely to be business as usual elsewhere.

Even the experimental nature of the match is unlikely to lead to a call-up for Southampton’s 17-year-old attacker Michael Obafemi, who made his Premier League debut off the bench against Tottenham in January. Though the player was born in Dublin and has represented Ireland at underage level, Nigeria have reportedly not given up hope of persuading the youngster to switch his international allegiance.

In addition, 34-year-old Jon Walters — another player facing an uncertain international future — is unlikely to be included either way, as he is currently recovering from a long-term injury and has featured just three times in the Premier League, all as a substitute, since joining Burnley from Stoke last summer.

The42′s 40-man Ireland squad to face Turkey:

Goalkeepers

Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Kieran O’Hara (Manchester United), Colin Doyle (Bradford City).

Defenders

Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Cyrus Christie (Fulham) Shane Duffy (Brighton), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Declan Rice (West Ham), Richard Keogh (Derby County), John Egan (Brentford), Kevin Long (Burnley), Greg Cunningham (Preston), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn), Conor Masterson (Liverpool).

Midfielders

Alan Browne (Preston), David Meyler (Hull), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion), Alan Judge (Brentford), Liam Kelly (Reading), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United), Aiden McGeady (Sunderland), Connor Ronan (Portsmouth, on loan from Wolves), Richie Towell (Rotherham, on loan from Brighton), Josh Cullen (West Ham), Daryl Horgan (Preston).

Forwards

Shane Long (Southampton), David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town), Sean Maguire (Preston North End),  Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Aiden O’Brien (Millwall), Cillian Sheridan (Jagiellonia Białystok), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen).

Possible starting XI (3-5-2): Randolph; Coleman, Duffy, Rice, Egan, McClean; Browne, Hourihane, Kelly; Maguire, Long.

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Paul Fennessy

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