Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# Selection dilemma
Here's who we think will make Ireland's 23-man Euro 2016 squad
Martin O’Neill faces a number of tough decisions ahead of this summer’s big event.

45 INTO 23 doesn’t go so we’ve taken a look at all the candidates for Martin O’Neill’s Euro 2016 squad and ranked them in order of each individual’s likelihood of making it.

On the plane barring injury…

Republic of Ireland v Bosnia and Herzegovina - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying - Play-off - Second Leg - Aviva Stadium PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Darren Randolph: Shay Given will be 40 by the time of the Euros, so O’Neill is likely to keep faith with Randolph, who featured in Ireland’s final four qualifiers.

Shay Given: May no longer be first choice having picked up an injury during the Germany game and missed some vital matches as a result. O’Neill and Keane often talk of the importance of experience, so Given is naturally expected to be certain of a squad place provided he’s fit.

John O’Shea: Turns 35 in April, yet O’Shea remains one of Ireland’s best options at centre-back.

Seamus Coleman: Widely considered as Ireland’s best player, Coleman failed to make the final Euros squad four years ago but a repeat this time around is unthinkable.

Robbie Brady: One of the players who has taken his chance under Martin O’Neill, Brady has gone from being a fringe squad member to a key player in the past 12 months, and his versatility is also likely to come in handy.

Richard Keogh: Another player who’s proved to be someone that Martin O’Neill can rely on, the 29-year-old centre-back put in some superb performances during the campaign, most notably against Germany and Bosnia, and will now fancy his chances of making the starting XI.

Ciaran Clark: Not always a regular at Aston Villa, Clark has never let anyone down in an Ireland shirt and his magnificent displays in the Bosnia games should guarantee his place on the plane.

Glenn Whelan: He has his critics, but there is no doubt that Whelan is one of Martin O’Neill’s most trusted players, so it would be a surprise if he doesn’t make the starting XI come June.

James McCarthy: Another who is almost certain to make Ireland’s starting XI, given that he was an ever present when available in the qualifiers.

Jeff Hendrick: Hendrick hasn’t always made the Derby team this year, but he is someone who Martin O’Neill clearly rates, having played in the majority of the qualifying matches and established himself as a first XI regular towards the end of the campaign.

James McClean: Has become the new Stephen Hunt, essentially — someone who seldom starts but invariably appears in the ‘impact sub’ role. McClean has been in decent form for West Brom this year, and his work-rate and energy are likely to come in handy in games where Ireland go without the ball for long periods.

Jon Walters: Ireland’s two-goal hero against Bosnia, while he also managed key strikes against Scotland, Poland and Georgia, Walters will be one of the first names on the teamsheet this summer.

Wes Hoolahan: Having been effectively ostracised from the side during the Giovanni Trapattoni era, Hoolahan has rewarded Martin O’Neill’s faith in him with some excellent performances, including a man-of-the-match display in the famous home win over Germany.

Shane Long: Rarely started in the qualifying round, Long still managed to chip in with key goals against Germany and Poland, while his considerable pace means he offers something different to Ireland’s other strikers.

Robbie Keane: Lost his place as an automatic starter during the qualifying campaign, but Keane — who will turn 36 this summer — remains Ireland’s best goalscorer.

Daryl Murphy: Having been in the international wilderness for a few years, Murphy’s fine form with Ipswich saw him rewarded, as the Waterford native made a number of starts during the qualifying campaign.

Likely to make it…

Rob Elliot: His chances have been boosted considerably given that he has come into the Newcastle team and done well. Elliot is consequently the only Irish goalkeeper starting in the Premier League and despite not getting a look in during the qualifiers, the 29-year-old will be hard to ignore if he continues his fine form.

Cyrus Christie: Impressed at full-back on the rare occasions he had the opportunity to deputise for Seamus Coleman — unless Christie has a disastrous end to the season, he is likely to make the final cut.

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group D - Republic of Ireland v Poland - Aviva Stadium Niall Carson Niall Carson

Marc Wilson: Another player whose stock has fallen since Martin O’Neill’s tenure began. Having initially been first choice in defence alongside John O’Shea, Wilson has fallen down the pecking order, with his lack of game time at Stoke not helping matters.

Stephen Ward: Started all three of Ireland’s Euro 2012 games, the fact that Ward is still in strong contention for a place in the side is a reflection of Ireland’s lack of options at left-back more than anything else. That said, the former Bohs player did extremely well in the 1-0 win against Germany, despite having played virtually no matches for Burnley this season, before struggling badly in the first play-off game against Bosnia.

Aiden McGeady: McGeady has endured a dreadful time at Everton this season, where he looks surplus to requirements, but when on form, few Irish players can rival his creativity and technical ability.

Harry Arter: After recovering from injury and delivering a number of eye-catching displays with Bournemouth, Arter appears in pole position to claim a squad place this summer.

David Meyler: By no means the most talented player in the squad but seemingly a good pro, Meyler’s versatility (he can play both full-back and midfield) is expected to win him a place in the 23-man panel.

Need a strong end to the season…

David Forde: Having started the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in the number one jersey, Forde lost his place in the team to Shay Given. His lack of game time at Millwall means he is now not even assured of a squad place.

Keiren Westwood: A rarity in that he’s an Irish goalkeeper who’s starting regularly for his club, Martin O’Neill still seems unconvinced by last season’s Championship Goalkeeper of the Year, who has often struggled to make it past provisional squads.

Alex Pearce: Was given a chance to impress in the 2014 summer friendlies and has been part of a couple of squads under Martin O’Neill, but Pearce’s struggles to get into the Derby team have rendered his Euros chances increasingly slim.

Greg Cunningham: Last played for Ireland in 2013, however he has featured in recent squads and the Preston player’s ability to play in the problematic left-back position could see him come into contention ultimately.

Paul McShane: Clearly admired by Giovanni Trapattoni, who rarely left him out of a squad, McShane is less of a favourite under Martin O’Neill, though the Reading captain’s ability to play across the backline means he cannot be ruled out for a place in the squad.

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group D - Scotland v Republic of Ireland - Celtic Park PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Darron Gibson: Featured sporadically during the campaign and started the Scotland away game — injury problems and indifferent form at club level means Gibson is currently touch and go for a squad place.

Alan Judge: Has been in superb form in the Championship this season, chipping in with a number of goals and assists for Brentford, and would be a decent alternative to Wes Hoolahan given his impressive technical ability. However, O’Neill has a reputation for being a somewhat conservative coach, and the Ireland boss may believe the attack-minded Judge would be of limited use in games where Ireland are chasing the ball for long periods.

Stephen Quinn: Started O’Neill’s first competitive match against Georgia, but injury problems meant he missed out on Ireland’s vital qualifying run-in, and he may just be made to pay the price this summer as a result.

Kevin Doyle: Once considered a key player for Ireland, Doyle’s career at club level has tapered off disappointingly and the Wexford native may be relying on an injury to one of Ireland’s other strikers in order to secure a place in the final 23.

David McGoldrick: The 28-year-old is a Teddy Sheringham-type striker, as comfortable creating chances for others as he is at scoring goals. However, he is behind Daryl Murphy in the pecking order at Ipswich and consequently, is unlikely to be favoured for a place in the Ireland side either.

Very unlikely, but have an outside chance…

Stephen Henderson: The Dublin-born goalkeeper has featured regularly for Charlton this season, but seems well down the pecking order as far as his Ireland chances are concerned.

Shane Duffy: The 23-year-old centre-back has impressed with Blackburn in the Championship this season and he has been capped by Martin O’Neill, but has struggled to make final squads. The former Everton defender wasn’t helped by injury problems that saw him miss a sizeable portion of the 2014-15 campaign.

Eunan O’Kane: The Derry-born midfielder had a decent early-season spell with Bournemouth and won an Ireland call-up as a result, but O’Kane has yet to win a senior Ireland cap and O’Neill would surely favour teammate Harry Arter ahead of him.

Soccer - International Friendly - Republic of Ireland v USA - Aviva Stadium PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Anthony Pilkington: Has featured in a number of friendlies under O’Neill, but the Cardiff winger has yet to play a minute of competitive action during the Derry native’s tenure.

Stephen Gleeson: The 27-year-old midfielder been quietly impressing for Birmingham in the Championship, having a better season in the league than some established Ireland internationals, but Gleeson is still a considerable dark horse to make the plane, given that he has been completely ignored so far by O’Neill.

Richie Towell: Towell would be a popular choice among League of Ireland followers, and his ability to get goals from midfield could be an invaluable asset, but he needs to get into the Brighton team first once he becomes available to play for Chris Hughton’s side in January.

Paul Green: The Rotherham midfielder’s unspectacular style unfortunately came to symbolise the worst excesses of the Giovanni Trapattoni era and he received a disproportionate amount of criticism as a result. Green still tends to make Ireland’s provisional squads, but unless there’s an injury crisis, he looks to have no hope of featuring among the final 23 this time around.

Adam Rooney: Has continued his prolific form in Scotland this season and Rooney has been partially acknowledged with a couple of squad call-ups, but the 27-year-old striker has still yet to win a senior cap and so is unlikely to figure.

Joe Mason: Has appeared fairly regularly in the Cardiff side in the Championship this season, yet has not figured in Martin O’Neill’s plans. He could be a useful alternative if Daryl Murphy picks up an injury though.

Anthony Stokes: Featured in Ireland’s last two 2014 World Cup qualifiers, but has struggled to get a look in since O’Neill has taken over, and Stokes’ problems at club level are another stumbling block to his progress.

Aiden O’Brien: The 22-year-old forward is another who would surely be reliant on an injury crisis, as he does not appear to be on O’Neill’s radar. However, his impressive form in League One with Millwall this season, chipping in with some key goals and winning the League One Player of the Month award for October, means he can’t be completely ruled out.

Simon Cox: The 28-year-old striker was included in the provisional squad for the Bosnia games, but has barely figured for either Reading or Bristol City (who he has joined on loan) in the Championship this season.

‘Argentina reached two finals, for f***’s sake’ – Messi hits out at critics>

The rising tide in League of Ireland attendances isn’t keeping all boats afloat>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel