World Cup Qualifier – The Irish Team Kick Off
July 10, 2016 (No Comments) by theSharpeUser

It seems like we are always willing to accept a day out. ‘Ah sure, we gave it a lash’ is an all too common attitude in Irish sport. The Euro 2016 journey wasn’t a bad one but it wasn’t a great one. So we beat the Italians on an amazing night to qualify for the last 16 but then got beaten by a superior French team. A French team that could have been avoided had we merely beaten the Swedes in the first game when we were the dominant force. Oh well, we’ll move on and next is the World Cup in 2018.

Ireland line out against Serbia away from home on the 5th September in the first game in their quest to make it to Russia. It’ll be interesting to see where the squad goes from here. This is what I think will happen in the interim.

Goalkeeper: Shay Given is set to retire from international football which will have no major impact on proceedings as current number one Darren Randolph has been exceptional between the sticks and will have Keiron Westwood as a capable Deputy. Rob Elliot of Newcastle has received a few caps and is another option.

Defence: Seamus Coleman is a no brainer on the right of defence. He has a good bit of mileage left in him yet and if he stays at his current level, the position is in safe hands. Down the middle, I’d expect John O’Shea to be another one to hang up the boots. Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy are the best options long term if they could forge a partnership. We saw in the Euros how hit and miss Clark can be while Duffy lacked experience at that level. Brian Lenihan (Hull City) is an option at left back, he’s featured a lot for the u21 side and could be ready for the step up. Stephen Ward and Richard Keogh will be around for a couple of years yet so may wait til after this campaign to call it a day. They’ll be in the reckoning too.

Midfield: The 4-2-3-1 formation was successful for Ireland in recent big games and I think they could adopt it full time from now on and simply change the level of force they put into attacking depending on opposition. Wes Hoolahan is the most technically gifted player in the squad but is 34 years old, he won’t be in Russia. Jeff Hendrick was a big shining light in France and I would expect him to partner James McCarthy in that deep lying two.

Ahead of them, James McClean is lively and attacking minded but is a major liability with his temper and sheer clumsiness in the tackle. I would expect him to feature on the left with Robbie Brady central as the main playmaker. He has the ability and featured there in patches throughout the Euros. Johnny Walters is the obvious option on the right but he’s another player who’ll be keeping an eye on his calendar as the years change. Harry Arter is an exceptional ball player and could also play deep to allow Hendrick into a more advanced position.

Attack: Robbie Keane will join O’Shea and Given in stepping aside and allowing the new blood to come through. The fact of the matter is, as Keane has gotten older and been pushed out of the team, Ireland have found fillers but nobody with the goal-scoring touch of Robbie. Shane Long is dogged, will pitch in with a goal here and there and just be an utter nuisance but goals win games. It’s a trouble area for the Irish and we’ll have to see if someone from the underage set-up comes flying out of the blocks soon.

So here it is, my team for Serbia in September:
Randolph: Coleman, Clark, Keogh, Ward: Arter, McCarthy: McClean, Brady, Hendrick: Long.

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World Cup Qualifier – The Irish Team Kick Off
July 10, 2016 (No Comments) by theSharpeUser

It seems like we are always willing to accept a day out. ‘Ah sure, we gave it a lash’ is an all too common attitude in Irish sport. The Euro 2016 journey wasn’t a bad one but it wasn’t a great one. So we beat the Italians on an amazing night to qualify for the last 16 but then got beaten by a superior French team. A French team that could have been avoided had we merely beaten the Swedes in the first game when we were the dominant force. Oh well, we’ll move on and next is the World Cup in 2018.

Ireland line out against Serbia away from home on the 5th September in the first game in their quest to make it to Russia. It’ll be interesting to see where the squad goes from here. This is what I think will happen in the interim.

Goalkeeper: Shay Given is set to retire from international football which will have no major impact on proceedings as current number one Darren Randolph has been exceptional between the sticks and will have Keiron Westwood as a capable Deputy. Rob Elliot of Newcastle has received a few caps and is another option.

Defence: Seamus Coleman is a no brainer on the right of defence. He has a good bit of mileage left in him yet and if he stays at his current level, the position is in safe hands. Down the middle, I’d expect John O’Shea to be another one to hang up the boots. Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy are the best options long term if they could forge a partnership. We saw in the Euros how hit and miss Clark can be while Duffy lacked experience at that level. Brian Lenihan (Hull City) is an option at left back, he’s featured a lot for the u21 side and could be ready for the step up. Stephen Ward and Richard Keogh will be around for a couple of years yet so may wait til after this campaign to call it a day. They’ll be in the reckoning too.

Midfield: The 4-2-3-1 formation was successful for Ireland in recent big games and I think they could adopt it full time from now on and simply change the level of force they put into attacking depending on opposition. Wes Hoolahan is the most technically gifted player in the squad but is 34 years old, he won’t be in Russia. Jeff Hendrick was a big shining light in France and I would expect him to partner James McCarthy in that deep lying two.

Ahead of them, James McClean is lively and attacking minded but is a major liability with his temper and sheer clumsiness in the tackle. I would expect him to feature on the left with Robbie Brady central as the main playmaker. He has the ability and featured there in patches throughout the Euros. Johnny Walters is the obvious option on the right but he’s another player who’ll be keeping an eye on his calendar as the years change. Harry Arter is an exceptional ball player and could also play deep to allow Hendrick into a more advanced position.

Attack: Robbie Keane will join O’Shea and Given in stepping aside and allowing the new blood to come through. The fact of the matter is, as Keane has gotten older and been pushed out of the team, Ireland have found fillers but nobody with the goal-scoring touch of Robbie. Shane Long is dogged, will pitch in with a goal here and there and just be an utter nuisance but goals win games. It’s a trouble area for the Irish and we’ll have to see if someone from the underage set-up comes flying out of the blocks soon.

So here it is, my team for Serbia in September:
Randolph: Coleman, Clark, Keogh, Ward: Arter, McCarthy: McClean, Brady, Hendrick: Long.

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