Wednesday 26 September 2018

'This is no night for sentiment' - Eamon Dunphy on the four big calls Martin O'Neill must make for Cardiff clash Newsdesk Newsdesk

Eamon Dunphy doesn't know what Irish XI will take to the field will take to the field in Cardiff tonight but has outlined key decisions that Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill must make.

After Scotland's draw in Slovenia last night, Ireland know that three points will land them a coveted play-off place t Wales' expense.

Dunphy feels that given the 'staggering' level of inconsistency with team selection throughout Ireland's campaign to date, that it is almost impossible to preempt anything.

Writing in his column in today's Irish Daiy Star, Dunphy identifies four crucial selection decisions; start Wes Hoolahan, play the returning Robbie Brady at left-back, start Harry Arter instead of Jeff Hendrick and keep faith with Shane Long.

"I don't think Hoolahan will start tonight. That O'Neill left him on the pitch so long on Friday night makes me convinced of that. Benching the Norwich City man will be a massive mistake."

On how O'Neill should deploy Brady, he adds: "There is one huge call O'Neill should make, and it would be a very harsh one on Stephen Ward.

"Ward has been very good for Burnley this season and he hasn't done much wrong with Ireland.

"But this is a night when we need Robbie Brady at his best.

"To me, he's always more effective at left-back  than in midfield. It would be cruel on Ward, but this isn't a night for sentiment."

Dunphy is wary of the threat posed by Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen in midfield and believes Bournemouth's Harry Arter is the man to counteract it.

"Ireland need him (Arter) in the middle from the start.

"He has the energy, aggression and football brain that will be needed in the midfield.

"Jeff Hendrick should make way. He was one of the shining lights when Ireland went to the European Championships but he has been way off his best in an Ireland shirt for some time now."

Lastly, Dunphy has urged O'Neill to stick with Shane Long despite the fact that he is now eight months without a goal for his club and a year without one for his country.

"I've watched him with Southampton and he's played well in a lot of games.

"His pace and aggression can hurt Wales.

"Ashley Williams has become a weakness for them. He doesn't have the legs anymore. Long could really trouble him."

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