Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 4°C
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5 players we'd like to see in the Ireland squad tomorrow
Chris Forrester and others with at least an outside chance of making the Euros.

MARTIN O’NEILL HAS vowed to experiment for the upcoming friendly matches with Slovakia and Switzerland later this month, with the squad for the games set to be announced tomorrow.

Sticking with the tried-and-trusted players that got the team to the Euros was famously a failed policy of Giovanni Trapattoni’s reign, and it’s a questionable stance when it comes at the expense of potentially superior individuals available.

Consequently, we’ve taken a look at a few less-than-familiar faces who could come into the reckoning.

1. Stephen Gleeson

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While players with little or no international experience such as Alan Judge and Harry Arter have deservedly received plenty of acclaim in recent months and are virtually assured of a place in the squad on Friday, one individual who has been less talked-about is Stephen Gleeson. The 27-year-old Dubliner has been a regular in a Birmingham side currently challenging for promotion to the Premier League, making 36 appearances for the Blues so far this season. And Ireland could certainly do worse than call upon the midfielder’s services, as they bid to try out alternatives to the established players.

2. Damien Delaney

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Yes, he made a much-discussed mistake at the weekend, and granted, he is officially retired from international duty, but overall, Delaney has had a better season than most Irish defenders. Of the other Irish centre-backs playing Premier League football, Ciaran Clark has often struggled to get into the Aston Villa team, while John O’Shea has also had his difficulties in a struggling Sunderland side. Moreover, it’s been hinted that Delaney is keen on ending his international exile, and with the current options limited, it would make sense to call on a player of his experience and quality.

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3. Stephen Henderson

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Henderson has not got much of a look-in under Martin O’Neill so far and despite having been included in squads before, he has yet to win a senior cap for Ireland. Nevertheless, with Shay Given currently injured and both Darren Randolph and David Forde struggling for game time for their respective clubs, the Charlton stopper, along with Rob Elliot and Keiren Westwood, is a rare example of an Irish goalkeeper featuring regularly for their team.

4. Shane Duffy

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Despite Blackburn not enjoying the best of seasons in the Championship, centre-back Shane Duffy has put in some encouraging displays this season. His current form has even prompted talk of a move to Crystal Palace among others, and the 24-year-old looks well placed to be a regular in the Irish team in the future, if not necessarily the present. A call-up for the upcoming matches, however, would be well deserved for the Derry native, with the player’s only senior cap so far coming against Costa Rica in the summer of 2014.

5. Chris Forrester

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Up until recently, some people were calling for Richie Towell to be included in the squad for these games, but the former Dundalk player has yet to feature in a league match for Brighton and Martin O’Neill has expressed reluctance to select him on this basis. Nevertheless, the same cannot be said for fellow former League of Ireland player Chris Forrester, who has impressed since joining Peterborough. Forrester is, of course, currently toiling away in the relative obscurity of League One and the Euros may come too soon for this hot prospect. However, the 23-year-old former Pat’s midfielder’s recent performance in the FA Cup against West Brom suggested he was capable of playing at a higher level, and with technically gifted players relatively few and far between in the Irish set-up, there would certainly be no harm giving Forrester a place in the squad for the upcoming friendlies, even if it would be somewhat out of character from the traditionally conservative O’Neill.

Who would you like to see in the Ireland squad tomorrow? Let us know in the comments section below.

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