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Do you agree with our Ireland team to face Armenia?

Stephen Kenny is expected to make a couple of changes from the Scotland game.

The Irish team before the Scotland game.
The Irish team before the Scotland game.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Goalkeeper/defence

Gavin Bazunu will retain his place in the side barring any last-minute injuries. Mark Travers is the man most likely to come in on the off chance that happens.

The back three all did relatively well against Scotland and so it would be a surprise if Kenny made changes. That said, there could be an outside chance Shane Duffy plays given his prowess from set pieces — Ireland will need as many goal threats as possible on the pitch against a team that are likely to sit back and play a blanket defence at times.

Wing-backs

Matt Doherty looked tired on occasions during the Scotland game, which is perhaps not a surprise, given that he has yet to start a competitive match for Spurs this season. Yet the alternate options aren’t strong — 33-year-old Seamus Coleman’s days of playing 90 minutes/starting in that physically demanding role are probably behind him, and as well as he did for the games in June in Doherty’s absence, Alan Browne is not a natural wing-back and so picking him there ahead of the Tottenham man would be a big and somewhat controversial call.  

James McClean did okay at the weekend and put in the corner for Ireland’s goal, but against a side as conservative as the Armenians, Kenny may favour the guile of Robbie Brady over the physicality and work rate of the Wigan star.

Midfield

Josh Cullen is suspended so it will be a rare case of an Ireland game where the Burnley man is absent from the starting XI. There are a couple of candidates to come in but Conor Hourihane is perhaps the most natural replacement in that slightly deeper midfield role. His ability on set pieces against a side that may prove difficult to unlock is another factor working in his favour.

It was no surprise Kenny went for the energy of Jason Knight and Jayson Molumby in a game as combative as the Scotland fixture inevitably was going to be. However, the Irish boss might be tempted to play someone else in what will be a very different type of game.

Jeff Hendrick is arguably better than any other Irish midfielder in the squad at producing an incisive, defence-splitting through pass and with this in mind, it would be no surprise to see the 30-year-old — who has made 10 appearances for a Reading team currently third in the Championship — start the game. Alan Browne is another who could come in if Kenny seeks to freshen things up further, though the exuberance of Knight might be considered a better fit alongside two midfielders who are the wrong side of 30.  

Callum O’Dowda will likely have to settle for a place on the bench again, though his dribbling ability may prove useful at some point in proceedings.

Attack

Probably the area of the pitch with the tightest calls. When it comes to the Scotland game, Troy Parrott unfortunately will be most remembered for his costly miss when one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but the Preston loanee did well in general play, with some nice touches and a good work rate off the ball.

Michael Obafemi also caught the eye and caused the Scottish defence problems with his pace, movement and eye for a pass. But the Swansea forward has to be managed carefully given his recent record with injuries and so Kenny may decide to hold him in reserve this time around.

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Chiedozie Ogbene, who was given half an hour on Saturday and looked lively when presented with a chance, could start from the outset this time — his five goals for Rotherham this season is more than Parrott and Obafemi have managed at club level combined.

Scott Hogan also has five goals this season for Birmingham in the Championship, though the fact that he was an unused sub at the weekend suggests he remains some way down the pecking order.

Callum Robinson, who has yet to score in nine appearances at club level, but has been prolific for Ireland in the relatively recent past and came off the bench at Hampden, is another option that Kenny may be tempted to consider. 

Possible Ireland XI to face Armenia: Gavin Bazunu, Nathan Collins, John Egan, Dara O’Shea, Matt Doherty, Robbie Brady, Conor Hourihane, Jeff Hendrick, Jason Knight, Troy Parrott, Chiedozie Ogbene.

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