Last chance to impress before Euro 2016 squad is finalised as Ireland prepare for Dutch test

Martin O’Neill is in town tomorrow afternoon to announce his panel ahead of this month’s warm-up game.

Time is running out before O'Neill has to submit his final squad list.
Time is running out before O'Neill has to submit his final squad list.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL HAS A couple of big decisions to make in the coming weeks as we enter the final month before Ireland line out in their opening Euro 2016 match.

A meeting with Sweden at the Stade de France in Paris kicks off Group E on 13 June before battles with Belgium and Italy in Bordeaux and Lille respectively.

Barring injuries in the final week of the season, the Derryman is likely to have a good idea of the 23 players he plans to bring to this summer’s tournament but he does have one final chance to have a look at his options at the Aviva Stadium in a fortnight’s time.

O’Neill will be at Three’s headquarters in Dublin tomorrow afternoon to name a squad for the friendly with the Netherlands on 27 May.

The game against Danny Blind’s side, who failed to qualify for the European championships for the first time since 1984, gives him the opportunity to answer any remaining questions in his mind before confirming the final squad list the following day.

The team then heads to Fota Island in Cork for a week-long training camp, during which they will face Belarus at Turner’s Cross Tuesday, 31 May, before departing for their base in Versailles five days out from the Sweden game.

Harry Arter’s return to the Bournemouth team in their last two Premier League outings is sure to have caught O’Neill’s eye as he has expressed his admiration for the once-capped midfielder on several occasions in the past and he will be hoping to play himself back into plans against the Dutch.

AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace - Barclays Premier League - Vitality Stadium Harry Arter has returned to fitness. Source: Daniel Hambury

First choice full-back Seamus Coleman has spent the past month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, which is a concern, while Everton team-mate Darron Gibson, previously written off due to his lack of football, has surprisingly featured in four of the Toffees’ last five matches.

19-year-old Meath teenager Kevin Toner has broken into Aston Villa’s first team in recent weeks with the Midlands club already destined for the Championship, while assistant manager Roy Keane went to watch Irish-eligible Brentford striker Scott Hogan last weekend.

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Although O’Neill has been known to spring surprises in the past, Euro 2016 has probably come too soon for the latter pair but they are ones to watch out for when the World Cup qualifiers come around in September.

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Ben Blake

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