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Dublin: 12 °C Sunday 26 May, 2019
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Wes Hoolahan and John O'Shea left on the bench for crucial relegation clash

Meanwhile, Robbie Brady starts for Norwich in what will be his 40th appearance this season in all competitions

Wes Hoolahan has made 35 appearances in all competitions this season.
Wes Hoolahan has made 35 appearances in all competitions this season.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE TEAM NEWS for today’s crucial Norwich-Sunderland relegation clash makes for less than reassuring viewing from an Irish perspective.

Though Robbie Brady starts for Norwich in what will be his 40th appearance this season in all competitions, both Wes Hoolahan and John O’Shea have to settle for a place on the bench for their respective sides.

With the Euros on the horizon, Martin O’Neill likely won’t be best pleased to see two of his key players overlooked for what is a crucial game in the relegation battle.

Both Hoolahan and O’Shea have been reduced to bit-part roles of late as their respective sides bid to avoid the drop.

Ex-Shels star Hoolahan hasn’t started for Norwich since their 0-0 draw with Man City on 12 March, while 34-year-old O’Shea has failed to make Sunderland’s first XI since the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on 1 March.

The outlook is not totally grim for Hoolahan, however. In addition to producing a man-of-the-match display in Ireland’s most recent friendly with Slovakia, he has impressed at times this season despite Norwich’s troubles. Yet despite Alex Neil’s side’s struggles and Hoolahan’s occasional difficulty getting into the first team, the Dubliner is still joint-eighth in the Premier League assists chart with 8 currently.

Today’s early kick-off is certain to have significant ramifications at the bottom of the table. Should Norwich avoid defeat, Aston Villa’s relegation will be confirmed, while a win would leave the Canaries seven points ahead of Sam Allardyce’s side and push them closer to safety.

You can follow updates on the game here.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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