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Dublin: 18 °C Sunday 25 August, 2019

What team should Ireland start for tomorrow's Euro 2016 qualifier against Germany?

Martin O’Neill has a number of decisions to make before he names his line-up on Thursday evening.

The Ireland team huddle Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

THE MORE PESSIMISTIC among you will claim that it matters little which team Martin O’Neill puts out tomorrow night.

Robbed of several important players through a combination of injuries and suspensions, Ireland entertain Joachim Löw’s star-studded Germany team at the Aviva Stadium.

It is exactly three years since the nations last met in Dublin, when the visitors handed the Boys in Green a 6-1 drubbing on a humiliating night for Irish football.

12 months ago, they gave a far better account of themselves against the world champions as John O’Shea’s dramatic equaliser at the death handed them a respectable point in Gelsenkirchen.

O’Neill, who names his line-up just before kick-off and not 24 hours in advance like his predecessor Giovanni Trapattoni used to, often springs a surprise or two when it comes to his selections.

The sheer number of absentees has limited his options and Seamus Coleman was the latest player to be definitely ruled out earlier today. But there is a place at the Euro 2016 finals up for grabs and Ireland are very much in the mix going into the final two qualifiers.

With that in mind, here’s the team this writer would pick from those currently at their disposal.

IRELAND (4-2-3-1): Given; Christie, O’Shea, Keogh, Brady; McCarthy, Meyler; Walters, Hendrick, Hoolahan; Long.

Not one of Ireland’s three goalkeepers (Given, Forde and Randolph) are first choice at their club right now, so Stoke City’s Shay Given is still the safest pair of hands — despite the fact that he is six months off his 40th birthday.

Across the backline, injuries to Coleman and Ciaran Clark mean changes are needed. Derby County defender Cyrus Christie has looked assured on the couple of occasions he deputised at right full-back.

However, this is a massive step up to playing either Gibraltar or the US in the friendly and the 23-year-old will need to settle his nerves early.

On the opposite side, Robbie Brady may be still learning his trade but he represents the best option and his deliveries are a great asset to have.

Alongside John O’Shea, the options are Championships trio Richard Keogh, Paul McShane and Alex Pearce — and Keogh gets the nod.

With much-maligned midfielder Glenn Whelan suspended and Stephen Quinn also out, I’d bring in David Meyler to shield the back four.

The Cork man has been in-and-out of the Hull team this season but he has shown that he can be called upon to do a job at this level and must be ahead of the still rusty Darron Gibson and the inexperienced Eunan O’Kane.

The idea would be to pack the middle of the park with a narrow five-man midfield and prevent the Germans from settling on the ball by getting in their faces.

Hendrick didn’t have his best game against Georgia but the Dubliner created a moment of brilliance for the winning goal to add to his assist against Germany.

Jon Walters always performs admirably and has shown for club and country that he is versatile enough to operate on the right side of midfield — using his physicality to get forward as often as possible while also tracking back.

Aiden McGeady, meanwhile, has only played 58 minutes of football all season but could be an option off the bench.

Wes Hoolahan Hoolahan needs to play. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

It seems that Wes Hoolahan has been deemed fully fit after sitting out training yesterday. With five Premier League assists for Norwich already this season, his vision remains hugely important to a team that doesn’t tend to create a huge amount of chances.

Wes can also drop back into midfield and give a helping hand when Germany have possession, which is likely to be the case for large spells of the game.

Ireland’s record goalscorer Robbie Keane declared that he is ready to play but we can’t afford to see another crucial game pass him by.

Like so many of the Irish players, the man most likely to play ahead of Keane, Shane Long, is not regular starter for his club.

That said, his running off the ball can cause the Germany defence some problems and he gets my vote to start as the lone striker.

A return of 13 international goals in Ireland 56 appearances is far from prolific but what better time to add to that tally.

Ireland team germany Source: See larger image

Do you agree? What team would you go with? Tell us in the comments section below

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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