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Do you agree with our Ireland starting XI to face Turkey?

With a number of high-profile players absent, Martin O’Neill is set to field an experimental side.

Ireland players train at Regnum Sports Centre, Belek, Turkey.
Ireland players train at Regnum Sports Centre, Belek, Turkey.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Goalkeeper

THERE WILL DEFINITELY be an inexperienced face in this position, as there is a grand total of one senior cap accrued between the three goalkeepers who have travelled to Turkey.

Colin Doyle’s sole appearance playing for the Boys in Green came all the way back in a May 2007 friendly against Ecuador. The 32-year-old has been included in a number of squads since then, so O’Neill might feel Friday is the perfect occasion to reward his loyalty, despite getting no game time over the past decade.

That said, Manchester United youngster Kieran O’Hara looks a more viable long-term option and so the Antalya clash would be the ideal environment to blood the 21-year-old.

Centre-backs

Ireland have an abundance of options at centre-back, with seven players in the squad comfortable playing there. For this reason, the 3-5-2 formation is surely worth trying out.

O’Neill frequently played this system while managing Celtic, so it’s not inconceivable that he would revisit it. Given his immense potential, West Ham teenager Declan Rice — who is also capable of playing in midfield — surely deserves a chance to impress.

Playing a team entirely of untried players is a little pointless, so fielding Rice alongside the more experienced likes of Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark would make sense. Others on the periphery of the side, such as Kevin Long, Alex Pearce and Darragh Lenihan, will also be hoping to get a run out.

Wing backs

The fact that Seamus Coleman is team captain and has travelled all the way out to Turkey means he is likely to get a starting spot. The attacking Everton full-back would be more than capable of reverting to the wing-back role, as would Matt Doherty, who has played there for Wolves on occasion.

Doherty’s versatility could come in useful — he has also played on the left for the Championship club. Enda Stevens, another uncapped player, will hope to be rewarded for an excellent season with Sheffield United.

Cyrus Christie and Derrick Williams are also decent options for O’Neill to avail of if necessary, while James McClean would likely have the fitness and work ethic to play in a slightly different role to what he is normally accustomed to.

Midfielders

This is an area where Martin O’Neill has few experienced faces to choose from. Of the players listed as ‘midfielders’ in the squad, only David Meyler, James McClean and Jeff Hendrick are into double figures in terms of caps acquired. Consequently, O’Neill is left with little option but to experiment.

Alan Judge is arguably the most creative and technically gifted player in the squad, but it has been nearly two years to the day since he last started a Championship match for Brentford. A horrific leg break put him out of action for a lengthy period and restricted the Dubliner to just 10 appearances — all off the bench — as he continues his return to full fitness this season.

An experienced player such as Jeff Hendrick’s services will likely be required, while both Alan Browne and Conor Hourihane have been enjoying excellent seasons with Preston and Aston Villa respectively, and so could get a chance to impress on the international stage. Eunan O’Kane and Daryl Horgan will also be hoping to get a run out at some point.

Attackers

Ireland have regularly played with one up front during the Martin O’Neill era, with Jon Walters invariably coming into the attack from a wide position. However, the three strikers in the squad — Sean Maguire, Shane Long and Scott Hogan — all prefer a central attacking role. How well two out of three work together is certainly worth trying out with little to lose on Friday evening.

Ireland team to face Turkey (5-3-2/3-5-2)

team

Other available options: Doyle, McCarey, Christie, Doherty, Kevin Long, Pearce, Williams, Lenihan, Hogan, Judge, Meyler, O’Kane, Horgan, McClean.

- Originally published at 19.30

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Paul Fennessy

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