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7 Ireland players that need to impress in the upcoming Netherlands friendly

Harry Arter and others who are hoping to secure a place in the final 23-man panel.

1. Keiren Westwood

Soccer - Sky Bet Championship - Charlton Athletic v Sheffield Wednesday - The Valley Source: EMPICS Sport

THE 31-YEAR-OLD has enjoyed a fine season at club level and was recently described as “the best goalkeeper in the Championship” by Owls coach Carlos Carvalhal. Martin O’Neill, however, has seemed reluctant to pick the goalkeeper in the past. Even with Rob Elliot’s season-ending injury, Shay Given, David Forde and Darren Randolph all were picked ahead of him in the qualifying campaign, despite their less impressive club form, and there is no evidence that O’Neill will alter this stance in the summer, unless Westwood makes a big impression in the coming weeks.

2. Shane Duffy

Soccer - Sky Bet Championship - Nottingham Forest v Blackburn Rovers - City Ground Source: Mike Egerton

Shane Duffy produced a man-of-the-match display in Ireland’s recent 1-0 win against Switzerland, however he remains far from assured a place in the Euro 2016 panel. Richard Keogh, John O’Shea and Ciaran Clark are seemingly guaranteed a place in the squad barring injury, having figured prominently in the qualifying campaign. Presuming only four centre-backs travel, Duffy will have to compete with Marc Wilson, Alex Pearce and Paul McShane for the final slot, with Wilson a particularly strong challenger owing to his ability to also cover Ireland’s problematic left-back position.

3. Harry Arter

AFC Bournemouth v West Ham United - Barclays Premier League - Vitality Stadium Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Arter has impressed when fit in the Premier League with Bournemouth, making 22 appearances so far this season. However, the 26-year-old midfielder’s lack of international experience could count against him, having appeared just once so far for his country. By contrast, David Meyler — one of his main rivals for a spot in the 23 — played a part in the qualifying campaign, featuring in both games against Germany. The Hull player’s ability to play full-back is also likely to work in his favour.

4. Darron Gibson

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - West Bromwich Albion v Everton - The Hawthorns Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

O’Neill appeared to effectively rule Gibson out of contention when he failed to make Ireland’s final squad for the games against Switzerland and Slovakia. However, the 28-year-old has since played a run of games for Everton, including 89 minutes of their FA Cup semi-final with Man United. However, at this stage, he still appears to be an outside bet, with other rivals for a midfield spot having played more regularly this season.

5. Stephen Quinn

Reading v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

While Alan Judge’s injury probably increased Quinn’s chances of making the squad, the Dubliner will likely still be nervously awaiting Martin O’Neill’s announcement on 28 May. He was less than impressive in the recent 1-0 win over Switzerland and was part of a Reading team that finished 17th in the Championship. Now 30, Quinn played in four of Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifiers, but hasn’t started a competitive match since the 1-1 draw against Germany back in October 2014.

6. Jonny Hayes

Soccer - Europa League First Qualifying Round - Second Leg - Aberdeen v Shkendija - Pittodrie Stadium Source: Jeff Holmes

If the squad was based purely on club displays, then Aberdeen’s Scottish Player of the Year nominee Jonny Hayes would surely make the 23. However, O’Neill is expected to opt for experience over form in this instance,  so the likes of Aiden McGeady and James McClean are expected to be included at the expense of the Dublin-born winger.

7. David McGoldrick

Middlesbrough v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship - Riverside Stadium Source: Scott Heppell

At 28, McGoldrick is likely to be Ireland’s youngest striker if he travels. However, the Nottingham-born forward is another who could suffer from lack of international experience — he has just two caps in total, making his debut in a friendly against USA back in November 2014. With Ireland set to play with a lone striker, no more than four forwards are expected to travel (if you count Jon Walters as a midfielder). Robbie Keane, Shane Long and Daryl Murphy are virtual certainties to make the plane, so the last spot will likely be between McGoldrick and the more experienced Kevin Doyle, whose Colorado Rapids team have been hugely impressive in the MLS of late.

Predicted 23-man Ireland Euro 2016 squad as it stands:

Goalkeepers: Shay Given, Darren Randolph, David Forde.

Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Cyrus Christie, Ciaran Clark, Richard Keogh, John O’Shea, Marc Wilson, Stephen Ward.

Midfielders: Aiden McGeady, James McClean, Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Jeff Hendrick, David Meyler, Wes Hoolahan, Robbie Brady, Jon Walters.

Forwards: Robbie Keane, Shane Long, Kevin Doyle, Daryl Murphy.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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