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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 18 May 2021
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Do you agree with our predicted Ireland team to face Swizerland?

Mick McCarthy is not expected to make too many changes from previous starting XIs.

Goalkeeper/Defence

WITH ALTERNATIVE options Mark Travers and Kieran O’Hara yet to be capped at senior international level, Darren Randolph is effectively guaranteed to start in goals barring a late injury.

At the back, despite John Egan enjoying a decent start to the Premier League season with Sheffield United, McCarthy is expected to stick with the same back four he has named in all four of his competitive matches in charge so far — Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh and Enda Stevens.

Aside from Egan, Cyrus Christie and Kevin Long are the only two other natural defenders in the squad.

Midfield

The midfield could be an area of concern, given the lack of regular football some of the players have been getting. Jeff Hendrick has appeared just once in the Premier League this season — as an 86th-minute substitute against Wolves. Conor Hourihane has started only one of Aston Villa’s four Premier League games, though he came off the bench in their 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace at the weekend. It’s a better outlook for Glenn Whelan, who has completed 90 minutes twice since signing for Hearts recently, including in their 2-2 draw with Hamilton on Saturday.

James McClean has played five out of six matches for bottom-of-the-Championship Stoke, though he has been deployed in the relatively unfamiliar role of left-back. One player who has enjoyed an encouraging start to the season, however, is Callum Robinson, with the Sheffield United star registering a goal and an assist against Chelsea on Saturday and starting all four of his side’s Premier League games so far.

In terms of the players likely to be on the bench, Alan Judge, Ronan Curtis, Alan Browne, Jack Byrne and Josh Cullen have all been having decent seasons, though Callum O’Dowda has had a disappointing time of late, making just one start for Bristol City in the Championship.

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Attack

One of the most interesting calls is what formation McCarthy opts for. He essentially played two up front against Gibraltar, though he is likely to opt for a slightly more conservative approach against a Swiss side who are expected to dominate possession.

He picked the exact same team against Georgia and Denmark, and the only definite change from that game will be the absence of Robbie Brady. Callum Robinson seems the most obvious replacement, though it will be interesting to see where he plays. The Blades attacker is capable of playing both up front and as a wide man, and it seems more likely that he will start in the latter role, as a direct replacement for Brady, with McClean on the left and Hendrick playing behind the striker, as he often does when chosen for Burnley.

In terms of the main frontman, David McGoldrick, who has started in three out of four of Sheffield United’s Premier League matches, is expected to regain his place in the Irish starting XI, with James Collins and Scott Hogan the potential alternative options on the bench.

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Paul Fennessy

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