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Do you agree with our Ireland team to face Serbia?

Stephen Kenny faces some tough calls ahead of tomorrow night’s match.

The Irish team as they lined out against Portugal.
The Irish team as they lined out against Portugal.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Goalkeeper/defence

Gavin Bazunu now seems to have fully established himself as Stephen Kenny’s number one. Barring any late injuries, that looks set to continue tomorrow.

The backline will depend on what system Ireland play. Should they persevere with three at the back, which they started with against both Portugal and Azerbaijan, then with Seamus Coleman unavailable through injury, Andrew Omobamidele looks best placed to come back into the team after his assured debut against Portugal. The only other viable option at centre-back is Celtic’s Liam Scales, and it would be a major surprise were he to be thrown in at the deep end, so Shane Duffy and John Egan will almost certainly feature.

Wing-backs

With the recently called up Cyrus Christie the only obvious alternative, Matt Doherty is expected to retain his place at right wing-back. On the left, it is more debatable. Introduced off the bench against Portugal, James McClean had a disappointing game from the outset against Azerbaijan and given his lack of action at club level, the 32-year-old might find it difficult to play two full games in a short space of time. Ryan Manning is the less experienced option with just four caps, but the 25-year-old Galway native might be given a chance following a decent start to the season with Swansea.

Midfield

Josh Cullen has been one of Ireland’s better performers over the course of this international window, creating the assist for Shane Duffy at the weekend, and so will be expected to retain his place in the side. Who joins him there is up for debate. Jayson Molumby played alongside the Anderlecht star on Saturday, with Troy Parrott in a more advanced position, but neither of those players totally convinced, with both substituted after 62 minutes. Kenny may be tempted to go back to the midfield that served him reasonably well against Portugal, despite both Jeff Hendrick and Jamie McGrath sitting out the draw with Azerbaijan. Harry Arter, Conor Hourihane and Alan Browne are the other midfield options and the latter two will feel they have a chance of starting after coming off the bench at the weekend.

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Attack

Another area in which it is hard to predict what Kenny will be thinking. Adam Idah has been Ireland’s most impressive attacker during this international window. However, he has played almost two full matches (he was taken off against Portugal in the 90th minute), so fatigue may be an issue for the 20-year-old, given that he has made just two late substitute appearances for Norwich in the Premier League this season.

Parrott and Aaron Connolly have both appeared short of their best during this international window, so it’s hard to make a case for either starting, though Callum Robinson looked bright when he came on at the weekend and may get the nod tomorrow following an impressive start to the season for West Brom.

James Collins hasn’t really done enough in the past under Kenny to warrant a starting spot, while Ronan Curtis and Daryl Horgan are unlikely to suit the system if he goes with two up top.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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