Who should make the Republic of Ireland squad?

Updated: August 23, 2012

Lorcan Stakem looks at who should make the Republic of Ireland squad for the games with Kazakhstan & Oman that will be announced at 4pm on Friday

After the horrendous European championship campaign, Ireland and Giovanni Trapattoni start their first steps in attempting to reach their first World Cup in 12 years when they announce their squad at 15:30 on Friday for their World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan in Astana on September 7 and the friendly against Oman at Craven Cottage on September 11.

Trapattoni, like the rest of us, will be disappointed to see the retirement of legendary goalkeeper Shay Given last week but the Italian is hopeful that Richard Dunne, Damian Duff and Robbie Keane will try to help Ireland on their 2014 qualifying adventure. Despite saying that he would give more players an opportunity ahead of the World Cup qualifying campaign, Trapattoni only called up uncapped Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph to the squad for the friendly against Serbia in Belgrade, after Norwich midfielder Wes Hoolahan pulled out with injury.

The usual squad members such as John O’Shea, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan and bar retirement Robbie Keane, Damian Duff and Richard Dunne should be involved but we look at the players who should be given a chance to impress during this tough qualifying campaign, which also involves fellow Euro 2012 qualifiers Sweden and Germany, and the players which Trap may leave out ahead of his squad announcement tomorrow.

Keiren Westwood -
There’s no doubt that the Sunderland keeper will be in the squad on Friday after Shay Given’s retirement last week but the 27-year-old keeper will now have the added pressure as Ireland’s number one keeper for what looks like, the foreseeable future. A big weight for a player with only 11 caps to his name. When called upon for the team, Westwood has handled himself brilliantly but it will be interesting to see how he reacts to being Ireland’s number one, especially when competition arises from the likes of Millwall’s David Forde.

Irish Squad – IN

Paul McShane -
Despite making a promising debut against the Czech Republic back in 2006, in which he was named man of the match, it’s safe to that the 26 year-old hasn’t matched those heights since. Trapattoni has huge respect to McShane’s commitment to Ireland and he will most likely be called up on Friday but including him for the European Championships instead of Kevin Foley was viewed by many as a scandal. With Brazil 2014 in mind, Trapattoni should give Kevin Foley, Ciaran Clark and others the opportunity to wear the green jersey instead of McShane as we know all his qualities and he hasn’t shown anything special at club level, whilst out on loan to suggest that he deserves to be an international.

Irish Squad – OUT

Anthony Pilkington –
Pilkington burst onto the scene last year when he had a prominent debut season in the Premier League with Norwich City, alongside Wes Hoolahan. Pilkington contributed eight goals from midfield in his first season with the Canaries including a brace against Swansea City and equalising goals against QPR and Spurs. However on the international front, Pilkington has been overlooked by Trapattoni and Tardelli even though the pair kept a close eye on the Norwich winger while preparing to name their Euro 2012 squad. It will be interesting to see if Trap is prepared to bring the 24 year-old in and with the possible departure of Damian Duff, Pilkington may even find himself in the starting line-up for games against Kazakhstan and Oman, at the least he deserves a place in the squad on Friday.

Irish Squad – IN

Stephen Hunt –
The Wolves winger has long been part of Trapattoni’s plans but has found himself more frequently coming off the bench to change matches instead of starting in the Irish team. Hunt now finds himself in the Championship after Wolves relegation last year and the 31 year-old has slowly gone into a decline after a poor season and has lost his place in the starting eleven. Hunt has always been a great servant to Ireland but it looks difficult for him to find a way back into the team unless he gets a loan move. With the rise of players such as Robbie Brady and Anthony Pilkington, Trapattoni should consider dropping Hunt and bringing in younger talent for this World Cup qualifying campaign.

Irish Squad – OUT

Darron Gibson -
Since leaving Manchester United for Everton in January, Darron Gibson has turned around his career and has enjoyed a fine run of form. His international career started with controversy due to a dispute between the Irish Football Association (IFA) and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) but Gibson declared his future with the Republic of Ireland. For the game against Kazakhstan, it would appear that Keith Andrews and Glenn Whelan will get the nod in centre midfield but Trapattoni must seriously think about giving the Everton midfielder an opportunity to start during Ireland’s qualifying campaign, especially after Gibson showed his class with an influential role in Everton’s victory against Manchester United on Monday.

Irish Squad – IN

James McCarthy –
McCarthy was set to be in Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad but unfortunately had to withdraw following the news that his dad had been diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, McCarthy says his dad is getting better and he had an encouraging display in the heart of Ireland’s midfield last week against Serbia. Just like Gibson, McCarthy had a promising second half to the season and will be close to pushing for a place in the starting line-up in future qualifying matches. At 21 years old, McCarthy has been guided well under Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and seems to be maturing with every game at the Latics. Trapattoni has finally realised the talent that McCarthy has and he will play a big part during Ireland’s 2014 campaign.

Irish Squad – IN

Kevin Doyle -
Just like Stephen Hunt, Kevin Doyle struggled during the second half of last season with Wolves and started most of the games on the bench with Steven Fletcher being preferred ahead of the Irish striker. Doyle’s goal record for Ireland is one in every five games but he has increasingly struggled to get himself on the score-sheet, his last international goal was almost a year ago against minnows Andorra. Even though this assessment of Doyle could be viewed as harsh due to his commitment and work rate, it would benefit Doyle and Ireland if Trapattoni dropped him from the squad tomorrow. Long, Keane,Walters and possible Cox give Trapattoni the right platform ahead of their first qualifier on September 7 and Doyle’s absence won’t effect team tactics. Doyle’s form for club and country has dropped significantly and with Walters and Long playing in the Premier League, Doyle’s place in the Irish squad is by no means a guarantee anymore.

Irish Squad – OUT

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