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Dublin: 12°C Saturday 27 February 2021

McClean and Molumby start as Kenny rings changes for Wales clash

Gareth Bale starts for Wales.

James McClean.
James McClean.
Image: PA

JAMES MCCLEAN AND Jayson Molumby are among those promoted to the starting XI for today’s Uefa Nations League meeting with Wales. 

Stephen Kenny has made five changes to the side that lost to England on Thursday with Kevin Long, Dara O’Shea, Molumby, McClean and Robbie Brady included from the off. 

With Cyrus Christie dropping to the bench, it’s expected Matt Doherty will return to right back with O’Shea slotting in at left-back. 

Adam Idah and Daryl Horgan retain their places up front, with McClean introduced for Callum O’Dowda. Conor Hourihane misses out in midfield for Molumby, while Robbie Brady is included with Alan Browne ruled out. 

Jason Knight, Jack Byrne and Ryan Manning are among the substitutes. 

Wales, meanwhile, are without Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy, but include Gareth Bale from the start. 

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As is becoming custom, Kenny has seen his squad depleted by injury and unavailability. Enda Stevens, Seamus Coleman, Aaron Connolly, Harry Arter, and John Egan have been ruled out with injury, while James McCarthy has withdrawn from the squad for family reasons. Alan Browne and Callum Robinson, meanwhile, have tested positive for Covid-19.

Ireland are seeking a first win under Stephen Kenny this evening, having scored just once in six games under the new manager to date. They are also seeking to avoid relegation from League B in the Nations League, and are currently a point clear of bottom-placed Bulgaria. 

World ranking points in the race for World Cup seeding is also at stake. Slovakia’s Euro 2020 playoff win over Northern Ireland has seen them leapfrog Ireland and push Kenny’s side to provisional third seeds in next month’s draw. 

Ireland’s best hope of vaulting to pot two is to win this evening and again against Bulgaria next Wednesday, with Russia just about within striking distance among the present second seeds.

Today’s game kicks off at 5pm and is live on Sky Sports Football. 

It is also available live and free-to-air on Welsh language channel S4c. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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