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Dublin: 9°C Thursday 22 October 2020

5 players who’ll be feeling anxious ahead of Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad announcement

Everton’s Darron Gibson and others who are less than certain of travelling to France.

1. Darron Gibson

Darron Gibson Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL HAS recently praised Aiden McGeady’s decision to go out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. Even though it ultimately didn’t work out, with the winger completely left out of recent playoff matches by club manager Carlos Carvalhal, the fact that McGeady was clearly thinking about his Euro 2016 squad place in making the move was enough to earn a level of respect from O’Neill, who also handed the player his debut as a teenager at Celtic.

Darron Gibson, on the other hand, stayed at Everton during the last transfer window, despite rumours linking him with a move elsewhere. Consequently, despite the Toffees’ struggles, Gibson was largely on the periphery of the side. Since the turn of the year, he has played just three times in the Premier League, completing 90 minutes in just one of those games. Whether O’Neill thinks his match sharpness is up to scratch remains to be seen and he struggled to make much of an impact after coming on against Holland in the 67th minute on Friday. But barring a big performance should he get a chance tonight, it’s hard to see him making the plane to France.

2. Keiren Westwood

Roy Keane and Keiren Westwood Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

One of the most controversial likely omissions, unlike the other three goalkeepers in contention, Westwood has played consistently at club level with Sheffield Wednesday, garnering plenty of acclaim in the process for his key role as the team narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League.

While he has struggled to get a look-in of late, the 31-year-old has not been completely ignored since Martin O’Neill became Ireland boss. Indeed, he completed 90 minutes of the Derry native’s first-ever game in charge — the 3-0 friendly win over Latvia, and also started the 0-0 friendly draw with England. And while Westwood’s form at club level means he cannot be ruled out entirely, O’Neill has indicated a preference for Darren Randolph, David Forde and Shay Given in recent squads, so it would certainly be a surprise if he was picked.

3. David McGoldrick

David McGoldrick Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Martin O’Neill gave out mixed signals on Friday night, after McGoldrick had played 76 minutes of the 1-1 draw with Holland at the Aviva Stadium. On the one hand, the manager said the Ipswich striker “can offer something that we don’t have in the side at the moment,” but conversely, he highlighted the forward’s poor record with injuries in recent times, which has seen him miss out on a large chunk of this season.

The 28-year-old’s inclusion could hinge on whether Robbie Keane is deemed fit enough to travel, but like Gibson, his lack of game time — McGoldrick has started just four times for his club since the turn of the year — is likely to prove a big concern for O’Neill. However, confirmation yesterday that Kevin Doyle has been placed on standby was a big boost to McGoldrick’s chances.

4. David Meyler

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David Meyler Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

It’s been a decent season at club level for the 27-year-old, who made 37 appearances in all competitions as Hull gained promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs. Yet the Corkonian is still not assured of a place in the 23-man squad. What counts in his favour is Meyler’s versatility — as well as being able to play midfield, he did a fine job slotting in as an emergency full-back both home and away against Germany during the qualifiers.

That said, in his preferred position in midfield, Meyler has done little to distinguish himself, struggling to have an influence after being handed an opportunity to start in the March friendly against Switzerland. For that reason, he may suffer the consequences, particularly with midfield rival Harry Arter delivering a man-of-the-match display on Friday night.

5. Stephen Quinn

Stephen Quinn with Riechedly Bazoer Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Stephen Quinn appears to be one player who Martin O’Neill would ideally avoid dropping from the squad. Yes, his stock has fallen since the beginning of the campaign, when the 30-year-old started away qualifiers against both Georgia and Germany. Since then, he has been a much more peripheral member of the side, with a combination of injuries and the form of Wes Hoolahan rendering him more dispensable in recent times.

The Reading midfielder was given a chance to impress against Holland on Friday night, and while he didn’t do too much wrong, he failed to really stamp his influence on proceedings. That said, he seems like the type of character O’Neill has time for — the dependable sort who always shows up for squad gatherings when fit and goes about his business in an assuming manner. Whether these qualities are enough to earn him a place in the 23-man squad remains uncertain, however.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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