Where exactly are the remaining places up for grabs in Ireland's Euro 2016 squad?

There are still a couple of questions to be answered tomorrow night.

Ireland assistant Roy Keane withHarry Arter, Aiden McGeady, Shane Duffy and Shane Long today.
Ireland assistant Roy Keane withHarry Arter, Aiden McGeady, Shane Duffy and Shane Long today.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Ben Blake reports from Cork 

IN JUST OVER 24 hours, Martin O’Neill will have to submit the names of 23 players he wishes to bring to France.

The Uefa deadline closes at 11pm Irish time tomorrow night — 90 minutes after the full-time whistle goes in Ireland’s final friendly against Belarus at Turner’s Cross.

“For a number of players, there are a couple of things to it (the warm-up game),” O’Neill said after today’s training session in Cork. “One or two players who think that they might be in danger of not being in the squad have a chance to play.

For a couple of others who I think we would all agree are pretty well certain to go, it’s a chance to get a game under their belt.”

While many of the 24 managers heading to Euro 2016 have already announced their squads, the Ireland boss has opted to leave the final decision to the very last minute.

Most of the places are pretty much nailed on at this stage. We know Darren Randolph will be number one with Shay Given and David Forde shoe-ins to be acting as back-ups. Yes, Keiren Westwood can feel hard done by but this management team clearly don’t rate him as highly as the rest of us do.

The eight defenders — Seamus Coleman, Cyrus Christie, John O’Shea, Ciaran Clark, Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh, Robbie Brady and Stephen Ward currently involved will make the trip barring any fresh injuries.

Midfield is where it gets a bit trickier. Glenn Whelan, Wes Hoolahan, Jeff Hendrick, James McClean and Aiden McGeady (despite his lack of regular football with Sheffield Wednesday in recent times) are all sure things.

Everton’s James McCarthy would be in the same bracket but he sat out training all last week with hamstring trouble and today trained away from the rest of the team as he attempts to regain his fitness.

O’Neill has in the past spoke of his willingness to include one or two players who are still not quite 100% two weeks out from the opening Group E game against Sweden and McCarthy could end up being such a player.

Elsewhere in the centre of the park, there are a couple of question marks. Harry Arter showed glimpses of what he can bring to the table in Friday night’s 1-1 draw with the Netherlands and there is no doubting his quality.

The Ireland manager is a big fan of his work rate, ability on the ball and eye for a goal, which will work in his favour, but he pulled out of training with a thigh complaint earlier on so we’ll have to wait and see the results of the scan.

Martin O'Neill Penny for your thoughts, Martin... Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Hull City’s David Meyler was back in his hometown of Cork after arriving from the Championship play-off final at Wembley over the weekend. He may not feature as regularly as he would like for Ireland but O’Neill believes he can rely on him and often praises his versatility.

And while Stephen Quinn did his chances no harm with an industrious performance against the Dutch, Meyler might be slight favourite to squeeze in there ahead of the Reading midfielder.

Of the other midfielders, the likelihood is that Darron Gibson and Eunan O’Kane could be the unlucky ones.

The situation up front was made a little more complicated by today’s news that Robbie Keane picked up a calf injury over the weekend meaning he won’t play against Belarus.

Keane’s involvement in the tournament would almost certainly have been from the bench with Shane Long, Jon Walters and Daryl Murphy all ahead of him in the pecking order these days.

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But what a shame it would be for the most capped player in Ireland’s history to be robbed of the chance to play at one final major tournament.

O’Neill was non-committal when asked about the 35-year-old’s chances of recovering in time, and that could open the door for Ipswich Town’s David McGoldrick, who can operate as a striker or a little deeper, with Kevin Doyle also on standby.

Predicted Ireland Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Shay Given, David Forde.

Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Cyrus Christie, John O’Shea, Ciaran Clark, Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh, Robbie Brady, Stephen Ward.

Midfielders: Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Jeff Hendrick, Wes Hoolahan, James McClean, Aiden McGeady, Harry Arter, David Meyler.

Forwards: Shane Long, Jon Walters, Daryl Murphy, David McGoldrick.

Which players would you like to see make Ireland’s final Euro 2016 squad? 

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Ireland captain Keane a doubt for Euro 2016 after picking up injury in training

‘Robbie is in the same sort of situation as I was at USA 94. He knows the score’

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Ben Blake

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