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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 22 May, 2018
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What shape is the Ireland squad in going into the summer friendlies?

We take a player-by-player look at how the season went for the Boys in Green ahead of the upcoming series of games.

The Ireland squad training at Gannon Park.
The Ireland squad training at Gannon Park.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

TOMORROW MORNING, Ireland manager Martin O’Neill whittles his 32-man squad down to a final panel for the upcoming summer friendlies.

Waterford’s Medieval Museum hosts the press conference ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Turkey at the Aviva Stadium and games against Italy (31 May),  Costa Rica (6 June) and Portugal (10 June).

And, as you will read below, it has been a season of mixed fortunes for Irish players:

Goalkeepers:

David Forde - Millwall beat the drop in the Championship by picking up 15 points from their last seven games and Ireland number one Forde was in superb form — winning the club’s Player of the Year having finished runner-up three times before.

David Forde Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Darren Randolph – Birmingham needed an injury time equaliser at Bolton to avoid relegation from the second tier but 27-year-old Randolph was an ever-present between the sticks — playing 46 times in his first season with the Blues.

Rob Elliot – Newcastle’s understudy to Tim Krul was restricted to just four appearances for the Magpies this season. Unfortunately for Elliot, they suffered defeat in all four games and conceded 12 goals along the way.

Defenders:

Seamus Coleman – What a season it was for the Everton full-back, who made the PFA Team of the Year and picked up Everton’s Player of the Year award for his swashbuckling performances. Says he wants to stay but the Toffees will do well to hold onto the Donegal native’s services.

Seamus Coleman Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Richard Keogh – The Derby County skipper could yet find himself a Premier League player as he leads the Rams out to take on QPR in the play-off final at Wembley on Saturday. The 27-year-old has been an ever-present under Steve McClaren.

Marc Wilson – Wilson’s versatility makes him a useful player for both club and country and he came in to replace the injured Robert Huth alongside Ryan Shawcross and turned out to be one of the Potters’ top performers.

John O’Shea – As club captain, John O’Shea led Sunderland to a miraculous late run of form which saw them finish 14th in the table despite being favourites for relegation at one stage. With question marks over the international future of Richard Dunne, the 33-year-old is our first choice centre-half.

Alex Pearce – Reading missed out on a play-off place by a single point but Pearce will look back on it as a decent campaign from a personal point of view as he was a regular in the Royals backline.

Stephen Kelly – Pearce’s team-mate Kelly can’t say the same as the former Spurs and Fulham full-back, now 30, was in and out of the Reading team in his first year at the club.

Damien Delaney – It may have taken him until the age of 32 to make it to the Premier League but Cork native Delaney was excellent for Crystal Palace as they finished 11th in the table under the guidance of Tony Pulis. He will be hoping for a chance to impress over the next month.

Shane Duffy – Everton defender Duffy spent the year on loan at Yeovil Town and, although they finished bottom of the Championship, the 22-year-old received good reports. Could be in line to make his senior debut.

Ciaran Clark – Clark had an okay season at Aston Villa, playing 29 times as they sealed 15th-place, but the 24-year-old clearly still got a lot to learn and looked vulnerable when Ron Vlaar wasn’t alongside him.

Stephen Ward – The full-back has just ended a successful loan spell at Brighton from Wolves and is hoping to earn a permanent move to the Seagulls, who lost out in the play-off semi-final.

Midfielders:

David Meyler – Undoubtedly the most productive season of the Cork midfielder’s career. Steve Bruce is a fan of his industry in the centre of the park as he was a regular for the beaten FA Cup finalists. A genuine option for a starting role for Ireland.

Soccer - FA Cup - Final - Arsenal v Hull City - Wembley Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

James McCarthy – Club mate Coleman may have been stealing the headlines but, after arriving for a considerable fee from Wigan, the Scottish-born midfielder was fit in seamlessly and was his reliable self. Should be one of the first names on Ireland’s team sheet.

Jeff Hendrick – 22-year-old Hendrick is another Irish player who has been in good form for Derby County and he recently scored in the play-off semi-final to help book their place at Wembley.

Glenn Whelan – He may not be the fashionable midfield option but there is no denying that the 30-year-old Dubliner had arguably his most consistent campaign for Stoke under Mark Hughes.

Paul Green – Green was sent out on loan to Ipswich Town by Leeds and Mick McCarthy is believed to be keen on keeping his services on a permanent basis after a number of solid performances.

Aiden McGeady – A January move to Everton from Spartak Moscow was greeted by some excitement from Irish fans but the former Celtic winger hasn’t been able to fully find his feet in the Premier League yet and better things will be expected next season.

Anthony Pilkington – Injury restricted the winger to just 15 Premier League appearances for Norwich, who could have done with his talent as they failed to avoid the drop. His fitness has been a problem in the past and is a worry.

James McClean – Wigan’s James McClean has played regularly under manager Uwe Rosler and scored four times. He was impressive in the recent play-off semi-final second leg, which Latics lost 2-1.

Stephen Quinn – With Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic cup-tied, Quinn was named behind Matty Fryatt in attack for Hull’s first ever FA Cup final. The Dubliner’s deliveries from set-pieces led to the Tigers’ two goals before Arsenal clinched the cup in extra time.

West Hoolahan – A season to forget for Hoolahan, who was unable to get a move away from Norwich in January and only featured eight times for the Canaries in 2014.

Forwards:

Robbie Keane – The all-time record goalscorer has found the back of the net five times for LA Galaxy, who sit bottom of the MLS Western Conference with just nine points from eight fixtures.

Robbie Keane, Rob Friend Source: DARRYL DYCK

Shane Long – His January switch to Hull worked out well as the Tipperary man formed a decent partnership with Nikica Jelavic – scoring four league goals for the Tigers in 15 appearances.

Daryl Murphy – 13 goals for Ipswich Town resulted in Murphy being branded “outstanding” by his club manager Mick McCarthy. Deserves a place in the squad after ending a six-year international exile back in March.

Jon Walters – You know what you’re going to get from the hard-working attacker, who has been deployed up front and on the winger. Is never going to be a prolific goalscorer and could only manage five goals from 36 appearances.

Kevin Doyle – A much-needed loan move away from Wolves could yet end in promotion to the Premier League as the striker is set to line out against Wigan on Saturday. If the Rs do go up, Doyle will be hoping he has done enough to entice Harry Redknapp into holding onto him.

Anthony Stokes – Stokes was the highest-scoring Irishman over the past season as his 21 goals contributed to Celtic’s Scottish Premiership triumph. At 25, he is playing some of his best football.

Simon Cox – You have to go back as far as February to find the last time the Nottingham Forest frontman scored for the Championship outfit and he has had to make do with substitute appearances in recent months.

Conor Sammon – Another player who is sprung from the bench more often than not, Sammon has become a perennial sub under Steve McClaren… not that he’ll mind if he proves the hero in the Championship final.

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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