Predicted Squad for Belgium/Switzerland

With John O’Shea set to name his Ireland squad for the games against Belgium and Switzerland on Thursday, Nick predicts the team he would like to see the former Manchester United player choose.

O’Shea has hinted that there will not be a lot of change to ensure ‘consistency’ with only One or two new faces expected to feature. What will be interesting to see, is if Sammie Szmodics finally earns his first international caps and if Kasey McAteer is yet eligible to make his bow. THere will also be some players in fanger of missing out due to lack of game-time, while others may be in danger due to lack of form.

Let us know what squad you would like to see in the comments below!

Goalkeepers

Caoimhín Kelleher (Liverpool)

A toss-up between Kelleher and Gavin Bazunu between the sticks and many will imagine that one will start each game. Thriving at Liverpool since deputising for Allison Becker, Kelleher may still seek a move away from Anfield in the summer meaning that this could be his last international window as a red.

Gavin Bazunu (Southampton)

Will certainly feel threatened by the aforementioned Kelleher and will hope to maximise this international window having been Stephen Kenny’s number one. Has enjoyed much improved season for a Southampton side looking to bounce straight back to the Premier league

Max O’Leary (Bristol City)

With Mark Travers limited to cup appearances, Max O’Leary is certainly deserved of his chance of an Ireland debut in the upcoming games given the fact he is starting every week for Bristol City. However, Travers is likley to feature given how highly rated he has become within the Ireland setup.

Defenders

Matt Doherty (Wolves)

Not his greatest season since returning to Wolves but it is difficult to see matt Doherty missing out on John O’Shea’s squad. Has played on either side of wing-back this season under Gary O’Neill, mostly off the bench.

Festy Ebosele (Udinese)

Seamus Coleman’s Ireland career may not necessarily be over, but the Everton and Ireland skipper has seen very little game time and may be asked to remain with his club during this window. Festy Ebosele on the other hand is now a regular in Serie A and his game seems to keep improving, playing with far more control and technical nuance this season.

Nathan Collins (Brentford)

Has regained his starting berth with Brentford after some shaky games but Nathan Collins’s talent will. not be ignored on the international front regardless of form. Will probably battle it out with Dara O’Shea for a starting role.

Andrew Omobamidele (Nottingham Forest)

Having seen very few minutes this season, Andrew Omobamidele has found himself back in the Nottingham Forest lineup and impressed against Liverpool in their narrow loss. An exceptional players and will battle benefit for some further minutes.

Dara O’Shea (Burnely)

One of the bright sparks in an atrocious Burnley team, Dara O’Shea has continued his steady development and looks comfortable in the Premier League. Will use this window to perhaps catch the eye of potential suitors with Burnley’s fate looking all but decided. A likely starter in this window.

Jake O’Brien (Lyon)

Strongly hinted as a new face in O’Shea’s squad, Jake O’Brien has earned his call-up off the back of some solid showings at Lyon. Having helped the French club climb out of relegation danger, the Cork-born 22 year-old will want to add international honours to a cap a fantastic few months.

Liam Scales (Celtic)

One of Ireland’s breakout players this season after a couple of years on the cusp of Ireland squads, Liam Scales will hope to retain his starting role at left centre-half. A exceptional passer of the ball, Scales can enhance Ireland’s ability to play a more expansive game.

Ryan Manning (Southampton)

A mixed season for Manning at promotion chasing Southampton, showing some inconsistencies for the Saints but also demonstrating his technical talents. The standout candidate to start at left-back or left wing-back for the next campaign given the lack of options available to Ireland, but does add excellent set-piece delivery.

Midfielders

Josh Cullen (Burnley)

Enters the international break off the back of a heroic perfromance against boyhood club West Ham, Josh Cullen is another Irish player to struggle for consistent game time. However, the midfielders is Ireland’s best option in the holding role and has been one of his countries better players in recent years.

Will Smallbone (Southampton)

Has finally become a regular at his boyhood club and with 4 goals and 3 assists this season for Southampton, Will Smallbone has been moulded into a midfielder capable of operating in a deep lying creative role or more advanced. Will be hoping to start under John O’Shea and would compliment Cullen very nicely having been utilised poorly under Stephen Kenny.

Alan Browne (Preston North End)

Despite not always being convincing for his country, Alan Browne is one of the natural leaders available to John O’Shea and also adds a goal threat. Has played in several roles for Preston this term but cannot be selected ahead of Doherty or Ebosele as a right-back when both are more natural fits.

Jason Knight (Bristol City)

Having finally gotten his Championship move, Jason Knight has contributed 7 goals and 4 assists for Bristol City, operating in a box-to-box role where he has captained the side. One of Ireland’s best players under Stephen Kenny, Knight will hope to retain his starting role and take his club form to Dublin.

Finn Azaz (Middlesbrough)

Joined Middlesbrough from Aston Villa via a loan at Plymouth in January, and will hope the fourth team he is attached to this season is Ireland. Offers a much needed creative outlet for John O’Shea but despite his quality, is not guaranteed a place in the squad and may have to wait until the incoming manager is in place.

Chiedoze Ogbene (Luton Town)

Has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and will be hoping to start against a Belgium side he scored against when the sides last met. With three goals already to his name this season, Ogbene is key to stretching the space for Ireland and being a nuisance for opposition fullbacks.

Mikey Johnston (West Brom-On Loan from Celtic))

Ireland’s in-form player (along with another man further down the list), Mikey Johnston has shone on loan at West Brom with 6 gaols in 9 games. Probably the first name on the team sheet given his blistering form and will hope to show the new manager as well as Brendan Rogers exactly what he is capable of!

Robbie Brady (Preston North End)

Yes, an obscure one but Robbie Brady’s experience, technical ability and set-piece delivery is still hard to match in what is a limited player pool. Could be selected for those three key reasons but in reality, has probably not done enough in recent times to warrant selection.

Mark Sykes (Bristol City)

Possibly one of Ireland’s bright sparks in Stephen Kenny’s last outing as Ireland boss against New Zealand, Mark Sykes offers a direct option out wide. With 5 goals and 3 assists for the Robins this season, Sykes will hope to keep his international momentum ticking over.

Forwards

Evan Ferguson (Brighton)

A rough patch but is context is key when assessing a player who is till only 19. The team should be built around Evan Ferguson and John O’Shea should find a way of utilising him (and possibly Sammie Szmodics) correctly to maximise Ireland’s goal threat.

Sammie Szmodics (Blackburn Rovers)

Fresh from netting goal number 27 in all competitions, the reality is that Sammie Szmodics is Ireland’s best player right now. Earmarked by O’Shea for a callup last week, this window should signal the start of the 28 year-old’s Ireland career.

Adam Idah (Celtic-On loan from Norwich City)

Another form player who has been reinvigorated by his move to Celtic, Adam Idah has managed 5 goals since arriving in Glasgow. Will be pushing for a starting place off the back of his form and will hope to take his goalscoring exploits into the international window.

Will Keane (Preston North End)

Like club mate Brady, may seem another unusual pick but Will Keane has been terrific for Preston this season, operating in a deep-role, demonstrating his linkup play and goalscoring pedigree, netting 12 goals this season. Another who could ultimately miss out but will fancy his chances nonetheless.

Michael Obafemi (Millwall-On Loan from Burnley)

Having missed out on the last few Ireland squads and most of the Premier league season with Burnley, Michael Obafemi continues his injury comeback on loan at Millwall. This window may come too soon for the 23 year-old but would have caught the eye of John O’Shea who witnessed him score against Blackburn Rovers last week

Troy Parrott (Excelsior-On Loan from Tottenham)

With 7 goals this season on loan at Dutch club Excelsior, Trot Parrott will hope that he has done enough to force his way into the Ireland squad this month after his form dipped somehwhat. Still only 22, the Dubliner offers an alternative to the bulky frontmen at John O’Shea’s disposal and will hope to catch the eye of the new manager.

Nick Menezes, Lansdowne Roar

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