Thursday 20 September 2018

Four talking points ahead of Ireland's clash with Turkey in Antalya

Republic of Ireland players, from left, James McClean, Seamus Coleman and David Meyler during squad training at Regnum Sports Centre in Belek, Turkey. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland players, from left, James McClean, Seamus Coleman and David Meyler during squad training at Regnum Sports Centre in Belek, Turkey. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Damian Spellman

Martin O'Neill will look to the future when he sends his Republic of Ireland side into friendly battle with Turkey in Antalya on Friday evening.

With many of his bigger names left at home, O'Neill is likely to run the rule over a series of new men as he looks to re-shape his squad.

Here, we take a look at some of the talking points surrounding the game.

1) Turkish delight

With retirement and injury having depleted the pool of players available to O'Neill from the World Cup qualifying campaign, the manager has opted to look beyond his tried and trusted troops. There were eight uncapped players - Aaron McCarey, Kieran O'Hara, Matt Doherty, Declan Rice, Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams, Enda Stevens and Scott Hogan - among the 25-man party which flew out from Dublin, while Colin Doyle, Kevin Long, Alan Judge, Alan Browne, Conor Hourihane, Daryl Horgan and Sean Maguire boast only a handful of appearances between them.

2) Welcome back

If there are several new faces among the current squad, there is one more familiar face whose presence is a source of genuine pleasure for management and team-mates alike. Skipper Seamus Coleman could pull on the green jersey for the first time since suffering an horrific double leg fracture against Wales in March last year to bring a happy end to a difficult year.

3) Glove story

Ireland relied for so long upon the brilliance of Shay Given in their goal and have seen Keiren Westwood, Rob Elliot, David Forde and Darren Randolph compete for the number one spot since his retirement. However, Bradford's Colin Doyle, Aaron McCarey of Ross County and Manchester United youngster Kieran O'Hara are O'Neill's options on Friday night and all three will be keen to force their way into the reckoning on a more regular basis.

4) Filling Robbie's boots

The task of replacing Robbie Keane, who scored 68 goals in 146 appearances for the Republic, was always going to be intensely difficult and with Daryl Murphy having also ended his international career and Jonathan Walters currently recovering from a knee injury, there is an opportunity for someone to take. Shane Long has not scored for his country since October 2016, while Sean Maguire, who has seven goals in his last seven games for Preston, and Hogan are relative newcomers to the set-up.

Online Editors

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