Big call

With Walters missing, who will come into the Ireland team to face Belgium?

Martin O’Neill must weigh up which of his players would be best-suited to replacing the injured forward.

- Ben Blake reports from Versailles

IRELAND WILL BE unable to pick an unchanged team for Saturday’s Euro 2016 match with Belgium as Jon Walters has been ruled out through injury.

The forward played 64 minutes in the 1-1 draw with Sweden but hasn’t trained since then and misses the second Group E fixture.

Below we look at the three candidates who could come into the team in place of him.

James McClean

West Brom man James McClean came on for Walters at the Stade de France on Monday and would be the most obious choice to fill in for him.

Direct and pacy, McClean has been used as a makeshift striker by O’Neill a couple of times in the past, most recently 2-2 draw with Slovakia, and could cause the Belgian backline trouble in a two-man frontline alongside Shane Long.

Alternatively, Ireland could switch to 4-2-3-1 and play the Derryman on the flanks — either as an orthodox or inverter winger.

Republic of Ireland v Sweden - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group E - Stade de France Martin Meissner Martin Meissner

 Stephen Ward

Robbie Brady performed well on Monday evening and he has shown real improvements to his game at full-back over the past year, but bringing in Stephen Ward would allow Brady to move further forward.

Ireland could benefit from having the Dubliner in midfield. Not only is he comfortable in possession, Brady links up well with Norwich City club mate Wes Hoolahan and he would have more opportunities to get crosses in from an advanced position.

Ward has had his critics, but he was excellent for Championships title-winners Burnley and will be match-sharp and full of confidence.

Republic of Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly - Turners Cross Brian Lawless Brian Lawless

 Daryl Murphy

While O’Neill opted to introduce Robbie Keane over Daryl Murphy late on in the draw with Sweden, the Waterford native offers something very different to Ireland’s all-time record goalscorer.

A big, physical presence who would be a handful for the Belgium centre-halves, the Ipswich Town striker started in the 1-0 win over Germany as well as both legs of the Euro 2016 play-off with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The one big question is that Murphy has yet to score an international goal in 21 appearances.

Republic of Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly - Turners Cross Brian Lawless Brian Lawless

Who would you like to see start on Saturday? 

Listen to The42′s Ben Blake on the 98FM Euro 2016 Daily podcast throughout the tournament 

Roy Keane put Ireland goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh on his arse during training today

‘I kept going over it in my head’ – Ciaran Clark had a sleepless night after his Euro 2016 own goal

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