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We've picked the Ireland team that should line out against Italy

Martin O’Neill needs to freshen things up in tomorrow’s final Euro 2016 group match.

Republic of Ireland v Belgium - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group E - Stade de Bordeaux Source: Chris Radburn

- Ben Blake reports from Versailles

IT’S WIN OR bust for Ireland at Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy tomorrow evening.

With only slim hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of Euro 2016, the Boys in Green know that failure to take three points off Italy will mean they are heading home.

Those involved in Monday’s 3-0 defeat to Belgium left the pitch with tired bodies and battered pride and Martin O’Neill must pick them up from the latest disappointment to prepare for what could potentially be their toughest test yet at this tournament.  

The one enforced change to his starting XI for that game saw Jon Walters drop out due to injury, but the Ireland boss will need to freshen things up by calling on squad players as a couple of his first team regulars are suffering from fatigue or poor form.

At the back, Ciaran Clark has played well for spells but he was at fault for a couple of goals conceded so far and although O’Neill would be more likely to replace him with Richard Keogh, we’d like to see Blackburn Rovers defender Shane Duffy given the opportunity to shine despite his inexperience at international level.

Elsewhere, James McCarthy is not performing anywhere near the level he has shown at times for Everton and, after two below-par displays over the past week, Stephen Quinn deserves a crack.

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Playing a diamond in midfield, Quinn could operate on either left or right side with Jeff Hendrick on the opposite and Robbie Brady pushed up into the hole behind the strikers.

Although he was excellent in the draw with Sweden, Wes Hoolahan didn’t hit those heights on Monday and ran out of steam before being replaced with 19 minutes to play.

Like Walters, who is unlikely to be ready to return after training on his own yesterday, the 34-year-old would be a huge loss as he offers something different to every other player in the squad.

Shane Long cut a frustrated figure as the lone striker against Belgium and could benefit from having another player alongside him.

As forwards, Daryl Murphy and Robbie Keane are the obvious options but James McClean is far more mobile then both and could put pressure on Italy’s 3-man backline with his closing down and direct running.

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What starting XI would you like to see named? 

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

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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