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Do you agree with our Ireland team to face France?

Graham Burke and a few others could be set to make their international debuts.

Ireland players train ahead of the France match.
Ireland players train ahead of the France match.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Goalkeeper

WITH THE LIKES of Darren Randolph and Keiren Westwood unavailable, Martin O’Neill will be forced to field an inexperienced goalkeeper at the Stade de France in Paris. Conor O’Malley and Shane Supple are uncapped at international level, while Colin Doyle has represented his country just twice.

The 32-year-old Cork native has had a decent season with Bradford, appearing 38 times in all competitions for a team that finished 11th in the League One table.

He demonstrated his commitment to the cause last March, when Doyle played for Ireland against Turkey before lining out for his club 4,000km away 20 hours later.

On that basis, the former Birmingham City stopper deserves the nod in goals.

Defence

The three at the back against Turkey didn’t seem to work, so Martin O’Neill may be tempted to revert to a four for the upcoming match.

There was a sense with that game in March that O’Neill fielded too many inexperienced players and not enough senior stars, which is perhaps one reason for the patently disjointed nature of the team’s performance on the night.

Therefore, in this game, the Irish boss may seek to find a better balance of familiar faces mixed with a few relatively untried individuals.

It will be interesting to see whether he plays Declan Rice in defence or midfield. The man of the match in Turkey impressed during stints in both roles at the Antalya Stadium.

Ireland have decent options in both areas for this friendly, so O’Neill may be inclined to select the 19-year-old at the back, where he has played the majority of his football for West Ham this season.

Meanwhile, Shane Duffy would be most people’s choice as the standout Irish performer in the Premier League this year, as he played an integral role in helping Brighton avoid relegation and enjoy a solid first season in the top flight.

A central defensive pairing of Duffy and Rice would be the envy of a number of international teams.

Seamus Coleman should provide the Boys in Green with some necessary experience at right-back, while on the other side, Greg Cunningham probably just about deserves the nod over Enda Stevens. The 27-year-old Preston star last lined out for Ireland in 2013, with a mixture of injury problems and Stephen Ward’s solid performances restricting him to just four caps overall.

On the bench, the likes of Derrick Williams, Darragh Lenihan and Matt Doherty will be hoping to feature at some point.

Midfield

It’s worrying from an Irish perspective that a number of players included here, such as Harry Arter, James McClean, Daryl Horgan and David Meyler, have not been automatic starters for their clubs this season.

One player who has been in good form though is Preston’s Player of the Year, Alan Browne, and so the former Cork City youngster surely deserves a chance to impress in midfield.

Elsewehere, McClean — who did at least finish the season well with West Brom — should be expected to provide the team with some experience out wide. On the other wing, Callum O’Dowda has impressed in flashes during the seven caps he has earned so far for Ireland, and despite missing a significant portion of the Championship season with Bristol City through injury, the 23-year-old could feature, particularly if O’Neill decides to go with 4-4-2. Horgan is the only other out-and-out winger available and the Galway native had a disappointing campaign at Preston, where the former Dundalk star’s game time was severely limited and he was mainly used as an impact sub if at all.

Alongside Browne, a more experienced player like Harry Arter — who has had a difficult season at Bournemouth — could feature.

Inexperienced members of the squad such as Alan Judge and Shaun Williams may have to be patient for their chance, while the underwhelming club season that David Meyler has experienced means he also might have to bide his time on the sidelines.

Attack

This is the area where Ireland are most obviously lacking in options, particularly following the unavailability of the likes of Sean Maguire, Scott Hogan and Callum Robinson.

Jon Walters is 34 and has started just two matches in all competitions this season owing to injury problems, so the experienced forward may be held in reserve. That could mean an international debut for Shamrock Rovers star Graham Burke up front alongside the tried and trusted Shane Long, who for all his faults in terms of goalscoring, would certainly provide Ireland with plenty of pace and presence in the final third.

Our Ireland XI to face France: Colin Doyle; Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, Declan Rice, Greg Cunningham; Callum O’Dowda, Alan Browne, Harry Arter, James McClean; Graham Burke, Shane Long.

The Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Colin Doyle, Conor O’Malley, Shane Supple

Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Matt Doherty, John Egan, Shane Duffy, Kevin Long, Darragh Lenihan, Declan Rice, John O’Shea, Enda Stevens, Derrick Williams, Greg Cunningham

Midfielders: Callum O’Dowda, Harry Arter, David Meyler, Alan Judge, Alan Browne, Shaun Williams, James McClean, Daryl Horgan.

Forwards: Jonathan Walters, Shane Long, Graham Burke

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Paul Fennessy

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