FOLLOWING IRELAND’S UNCONVINCING win over Kazakhstan last month, many commentators queried manager Giovanni Trapattoni’s selection policy and urged him to ring the changes for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Germany.
With that in mind, we decided to compare the alternative options available to Trap and provocatively suggest that the result is a team superior to the one that started in Kazakhstan.
Let us know whether you agree or disagree in the comments section below, and keep in mind that we excluded injured players, in addition to the following XI who started against Kazakhstan:
Westwood, O’Shea, St Ledger, O’Dea, Ward, Whelan, McCarthy, McGeady, Cox, Walters, Keane.
David Forde (Milwall)
The case for inclusion: Forde is arguably not quite as accomplished a goalkeeper as Westwood, but he does have the advantage of playing regular first-team football, albeit in the Championship.
Stephen Kelly (Fulham)
Stephen Kelly and David Meyler training in Malahide yesterday (INPHO/Donall Farmer).
The case for inclusion: The Fulham defender has shown great consistency in recent months. His unassuming style both on and off the pitch means he rarely grabs headlines. Yet Kelly has, over the years, proven to be a diligent, reliable full-back, with underrated attacking prowess. The ex-Spurs man is one of the few players on this list with a realistic chance of starting, especially if Trapattoni opts to play John O’Shea at centre-half.
Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa)
The case for inclusion: Like the rest of his teammates, the Villa defender has had a less than spectacular start to the season. However, he is still playing at a much higher level than either Sean St Ledger or Darren O’Dea and his steady presence has ensured his club haven’t suffered unduly from the enforced absence of Richard Dunne. Unfortunately though, he is one of several Premier League players who Trap seems reluctant to pick at the moment.
Shane Duffy (Everton)
The case for inclusion: One of the reasons John O’Shea has been so regularly deployed at full-back throughout his career is that he has at times looked less than assured at centre-half. Moreover, of all Ireland’s players, O’Shea is arguably the one who has been most prone to conceding possession cheaply in recent matches. Duffy, while not yet a regular starter at Everton, has seldom let the team down whenever he has played, and is regarded as a player of huge promise.
Marc Wilson (Stoke)
The case for inclusion: Recently described as the unsung hero of the Stoke team by manager Tony Pulis, of all the Ireland players consistently ignored by Trap, Wilson is arguably the one who has the most legitimate right to feel aggrieved. He surely represents a better option than Stephen Ward, who is playing at a lower level at Wolves, and was one of Ireland’s poorest performers at Euro 2012.
Giovanni Trapattoni with Robbie Brady at training yesterday (INPHO/Donall Farmer).
Robbie Brady (Manchester United)
The case for inclusion: Unlike players such as Simon Cox and Andy Keogh, both of whom seem to be ahead of Brady in the pecking order for the Germany game, the United man has already consistently proved he is capable of producing something out of the ordinary. In contrast with the two aforementioned candidates, who normally operate as forwards, he is naturally suited to playing on the wing. In addition, Brady is, ostensibly, an archetypal Trap-type player, who works hard in defence, as well as invariably being effective in attack.
Keith Andrews (Bolton)
The case for inclusion: Andrews is probably the most likely player out of all of these candidates to start against Germany, and perhaps deservedly so. He was routinely described as Ireland’s best player during the Euros, and also played an important role in the decisive away playoff against Estonia, which ultimately significantly enhanced the team’s Euro 2012 qualification bid.
David Meyler (Sunderland)
The case for inclusion: Most people would prefer James McCarthy to start in midfield, however even the Scottish-born player’s most vehement supporters would surely admit that he had no real impact against Kazakhstan. Moreover, Meyler outshone McCarthy in the recent friendly against Oman, looking as if he had been in the team for years, and would be more naturally suited to one of the two more defensive midfield roles in a 4-5-1 formation.
Seamus Coleman has been in fine form for Everton this year (Peter Byrne/PA Archive/Press Association Images).
Seamus Coleman (Everton)
The case for inclusion: Aiden McGeady’s supporters will point out that he made more assists than anyone else in the Ireland team during the Euro 2012 qualifiers, yet in spite of that statistic, he has still shown a distinct lack of consistency for Ireland over the years. Coleman represents a less naturally skilful but more direct option, and the full-back-cum-winger has been part of an Everton team that has started the Premier League season in an extremely eye-catching fashion – defeating Manchester United and at one point, rising as high as second.
Wes Hoolahan (Norwich)
The case for inclusion: Trapattoni continues to ignore the Norwich man, refraining from selecting him for the squad even. Yet should the Italian manager ever opt to discard the 4-4-2 system and revert to 4-5-1 – as many of the team’s critics say he should – it’s difficult to think of a player more suited to playing behind the striker than Hoolahan, given that he possesses the type of creative spark which Ireland often seem to be crying out for.
Shane Long (West Brom)
The case for inclusion: Robbie Keane has at times been unfairly maligned, considering his tremendous goalscoring record for Ireland. Nonetheless, after his poor showing at the Euros, surely the time is right to drop him to the bench at the very least. Long, on the other hand, has helped West Brom to reach sixth place this season, with a series of fine performances. In fact, it’s difficult to think of an Irish player who has performed more impressively this season than the Tipperary native.
What do you think? Should we play an entirely different side to the one that faced Kazakhstan?