Saturday 1 October 2016

Republic of Ireland v Slovakia - Talking Points

Published 28/03/2016 | 14:36

Rob Elliot could start against Slovakia
Rob Elliot could start against Slovakia

Martin O'Neill will embark upon the second phase of his March experiment as he sends the Republic of Ireland into friendly battle with Slovakia on Tuesday night.

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Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding a game which pitches Ireland into battle with a side which has been drawn in the same group as England and Wales for the Euro 2016 finals.

KEEPING IT SAFE

Having indicated he would hand both Darren Randolph and Rob Elliot a chance to impress in the two games, O'Neill opted for the West Ham man in Friday night's 1-0 victory over Switzerland. That should mean Newcastle's Elliot wins his fourth cap against the Slovakians and gets the opportunity to prove that he can carry his club form onto the international stage and compete for the number one spot in France.

LONG AND LONELY ROAD

The withdrawals of skipper Robbie Keane, Jonathan Walters, Kevin Doyle and Daryl Murphy through injury means Shane Long is O'Neill's only remaining specialist striker. In the circumstances, he has a series of options with Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington able to play in behind a lone striker and James McClean a more left-field option, while midfielders Aiden McGeady, Alan Judge, Eunan O'Kane and Jonny Hayes offer the manager a range of possible alternatives to support a frontman.

SYSTEM CHANGE?

O'Neill chose to go with a 4-4-2 formation against the Swiss with mixed results as McGeady and debutant Judge provided the width early on behind Doyle and Long. However, he favoured a 4-2-3-1 approach during the latter stages of the qualification campaign and, given the injury situation, he is likely to return to that system.

A WORD IN YOUR EAR

Wales boss Chris Coleman has already indicated his intention to run the rule over Euro 2016 opponents Slovakia at the Aviva Stadium, and the game could be a valuable source of information for England counterpart Roy Hodgson too. O'Neill, who indicated he would happily take up Coleman's offer of a chat over dinner, is not averse to giving a colleague a helping hand, although his focus will be on preparing his players for the challenges they face against Sweden, Belgium and Italy in the summer.

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