Friday 6 December 2019

Jeff Hendrick to start, Keogh to come in for Wilson: How Ireland should line up against Scotland

Jeff Hendrick provides Martin O'Neill with a real alternative midfield option
Jeff Hendrick provides Martin O'Neill with a real alternative midfield option
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

One of the big talking points ahead of the vital clash against Scotland in Celtic Park this Friday is the reaction Scottish born Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy will receive from the home crowd.

Of a more pressing concern to Martin O’Neill however, will be whether or not McCarthy will be fit after he injured the same hamstring that forced him out of Ireland's draw in Germany last month during Everton’s 1-1 draw with Sunderland yesterday.

"It is a bit of a concern because he had the same injury a few weeks back against Manchester United and it is exactly the same area," said his club boss Roberto Martinez.

"We hope it is more fatigue than a soft-tissue problem. We'll assess him in the morning and hope he's fully fit so he can join them."

Should McCarthy not make it, it would leave O’Neill with a serious selection headache as Glenn Whelan and Wes Hoolahan will also be watching from the sidelines with injuries.

Here is how Ireland should line up this Friday.

James McCarthy (L) suffered a hamstring injury with Everton
James McCarthy (L) suffered a hamstring injury with Everton


The number one jersey is well and truly his own now. Made a couple of outstanding saves against Germany, the pick of the bunch against Mario Gotze when the German striker was through on goal. A certain starter on Friday.


The first name on the teamsheet, Coleman is another certain starter against the Scots. David Meyler can feel hard done-by should he miss out following his solid display in the 1-1 draw away to Germany, but Coleman offers so much going forward and he will be pencilled in.


The hero of Gelsenkirchen and another who will be donning the green jersey on Friday. In his 100th cap, O’Shea produced a masterclass against Germany, capped off with that goal, and the only big question is who will partner him with Marc Wilson struggling with an injury.


Keogh has been in good form for Derby County as they lead the Championship and while question marks surround his experience at international level, he remains our best option ahead of Damien Delaney.

Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane celebrates after the final whistle
Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane celebrates after the final whistle


Ridiculed in some quarters, the Burnley man bounced back with a solid shift in Germany. While his lack of pace has been exposed at times for Ireland, it’s also worth noting that he remains a regular Premier League player.


McGeady has proven that he can win games with moments of individual brilliance and how fitting would it be if he were to be the hero in Glasgow. Expect him to start in his favoured position on the right hand side.


It’s great to see the Everton man back in contention following his crippling injury last season. Gibson came on for Gareth Barry yesterday in the 13th minute and his fitness is improving all the time. With Glenn Whelan and Wes Hoolahan out injured, this is a big chance for the Derryman to nail down a marker.

Should James McCarthy be fit, then Jeff Hendrick should be the man to partner him with Gibson on the bench.

Hendrick changed the game when he came on against Germany and following his two quality goals for Derby at the weekend, confidence in the talented youngster will be sky high.

With McCarthy playing a more defensive midfield role, Hendrick would be given a license to roam forward where he can do damage, just like he did against Germany.


Like Wilson, if he is fit McCarthy starts. The young Everton midfielder offers so much energy and endeavour as well as solid defensive cover ahead of the back four and would also compliment Hendrick’s ability to get on the ball in a more forward role.


The Wigan winger had one of his best games in a green shirt away to Germany. Tenacious and full of running, McClean gave Ireland extra cover when needed at the back and was a threat going forward, particularly in the latter stages of the match.


Fresh from two neat finishes at the weekend, Long should get serious consideration from O’Neill.  His hard running and ability to hold the ball up will act as a perfect foil for Hendrick and Robbie Keane to pick up the pieces.


His aging legs mean he should not be deployed as a lone frontman but with an energetic striker in Shane Long alongside him and playing in familiar surroundings, this is a game for Keane to nick a goal.

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