Ireland Squad Analysis: Russia & Slovakia
As with a lot of articles here, this is another new feature on GreenScene. Every time Giovanni Trapattoni names a squad for international fixtures, we are going to have a look at the players listed and tell you how they have been doing so far this season, what’s their form like, etc. On Monday, Trapattoni announced the provisional 26-man squad for the crucial Euro 2012 Qualifiers against Russia and Slovakia, and there were some noteworthy omissions (Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, Anthony Stokes, etc.), however this piece will focus on the players that did make the cut.
With the Premier League season already five league games old, Ireland’s number one has been demoted from his club’s starting eleven. Not even selected in the Manchester City team to face Red Bull Salzburg last week, Shay has had to cope with sitting on the bench for ninety minutes every game while watching Joe Hart play week-in, week-out. His first domestic game of the season came last night against West Brom in the League Cup, and he’ll be disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet and made a better claim for his place at City. Still Ireland’s number 1 however.
The Coventry goalkeeper is having an impressive season in the Championship. Currently second among goalkeepers in the Trapattoni Index, he’s already kept a clean sheet in the league, as well as just conceding five goals in the same number of games. A very strong keeper to have as a backup in case Given gets injured.
Surely Ireland’s third choice goalkeeper, Murphy will head to Slovakia knowing that his seat on the plane will probably prove more comfortable than sitting on the bench for ninety minutes in Central Europe. He has kept two clean sheets this season, and with eight games already under his belt, will undoubtedly be Scunthorpe’s first choice keeper every week in the Championship.
A guaranteed starter for Trapattoni, the experienced Manchester United defender has been solid at the back for Alex Ferguson’s side. He’s always dependable for Ireland, and has improved greatly in recent years. Hopefully he can be an inspiration to the younger players in the squad.
Dunne picked up a knock at the weekend, and will have to shake it off if he wants to feature for Gerard Houllier’s new look Aston Villa. Usually a solid, reliable defender, he can be relied upon for 89 minutes of every game. Just needs to iron out those lapses of concentration and then he’d be spectacular. Trapattoni should have him going up for every set piece though, unlike against Armenia.
Sean St Ledger
Although he had a bad weekend two weeks back, St. Ledger will not let a few goals conceded affect his confidence. An extremely hard worker in a green jersey, the Preston North End man is bound to give 100% every match.
An unusual call-up for Trapattoni, but he highly rates the young Man City player. Yet to feature in the league this season, Cunningham is another of Mancini’s outsiders who will only get opportunities in cup competitions. I wouldn’t expect him to feature in either of Ireland’s upcoming qualifiers, particularly when there’s more experienced players in the squad.
2010 seems to be Foley’s year. A first-team player for Mick McCarthy at Wolves, he could inject some attacking play into Ireland’s right-side were he to be given his second cap in the upcoming qualifiers. Capable of playing on the right of midfield as well as playing at right back, he’s got a good eye for the ball, and provided a great cross at the weekend leading to a Wolves goal.
Impressed last weekend with another solid performance for Fulham, Kelly is another of Trapattoni’s favoured players. His club boss Mark Hughes has also noticed an improvement in the right-back’s performances, and could easily add to his 14 Irish caps.
Although he gets a lot of stick from Irish fans, and fans of his club, Hull, McShane is having a decent domestic season. He’s nothing amazing, but the side have kept three clean sheets under his watch. You can’t ask for much more from a central defender. However, the international step-up always seems to be too great for him. Expect him to watch from the sidelines.
Another strong performer. O’Dea is having a splendid season since his loan move to Roy Keane’s Ipswich. He currently sits at the top of the Trapattoni Index, and was greatly praised last weekend for his impressive performance in the Championship against Cardiff. Would have no problems if called upon to represent his country in just over two weeks’ time.
Barring injury, Kilbane is going to add to his long, long streak of international appearances. Like his Hull teammate Paul McShane, Kilbane is another who receives a hard time from the fans. However, there is no harder worker on the field than Kilbane, who gives his all in every single game. Was rewarded with a fine goal against Andorra in our second game.
Yet to feature for Blackburn, Andrews is still recovering from a long-term injury. If he’s fit in time for the Euro 2012 qualifiers, he could easily appear for Trapattoni’s side even if he hasn’t played a minute of club football. Hopefully he’ll be given the same chance with Blackburn when he returns to full fitness.
Resigned to the bench for some of Stoke’s recent league games, Whelan is always reliable in the Irish midfield. He never displays much attacking flair, but is a strong passer of the ball and works well as a holding midfielder. Played well in Stoke’s 2-0 win over Fulham in the Carling Cup.
Thus far he has only played against Rangers, Scunthorpe and had a 5 minute cameo against Liverpool. While looking like United’s best goal threat against Rangers, Gibson will no doubt want much more game time over the coming time. Will be very disappointed to have fallen behind Paul Green in the Irish squad.Fantastic chip goal against Scunthorpe might just remind Trapattoni of his talent.
A regular in the Derby side. However Derby look like they will be involved in a relegation struggle this season. His dogged dependable style has found favour with Trapattoni. Although very nervous in the first half in Yerevan, Green settled into the position admirably. He will hope to start against the Russians given Andrews recent injury troubles.
His move to Portsmouth seemed quite puzzling. Lawrence is a player that can still cut it in the Premiership. Played very well at Fratton park, but it has been nothing short of a disastrous start to the season for Pompy. The fact his move to Portsmouth is only a loan, rather than the permanent switch that was mentioned initially could be a blessing in disguise for Lawrence. Great assist for the all important goal in Armenia, Lawrence has made himself a vital player in the Irish squad. Fantastic from set pieces and a capacity to always raise his game against the big boys.
Made the very brave move to Moscow, and has been playing very well for them, even gaining the praise of Russian legend Andrei Kanchelskis. Showed his passion for the cause by playing with an injury against both Armenia and Andorra respectively. Can still be very frustrating with his final ball but has buckets of talent. Irish fans will hope the move the move to Russia will help him develop as a player, after a couple of frustrating seasons at Celtic.
Found himself out of favour at Wolves, and moved on loan to Cardiff. Settled in quite well there but has still been very unpredictable at times. A player that Trapattoni initially had great trust in, he appears to have fallen down the ladder since his 22nd minute substitution in Bari. Still always a player that Trap is likely to throw on in the second half.
Still every bit as essential a player as he ever was for Ireland. His ability to win easy free kicks is vital, as Trapattoni has built a team who are very dangerous at set pieces. Niggling injuries have restricted him to 5 appearances this for Fulham this season, and kept him out of the Armenia and Andorra double header. So long as injuries stay away, Duff will remain one of the first names on the team-sheet.
The hero of Yerevan has unfortunately found it a lot more difficult to get in the starting line up for Birmingham this season. Will hope to have done enough in Tuesday’s League Cup victory over MK Dons to get more premiership starts. A smart technical player as he proved with his smart goal in Armenia, he is a very useful player to have in the squad.
One of the very few bright spots of Preston’s season thus far (in fact he has scored last night for Preston in the League Ciup). Treacy has come of age as is proving to be a very tricky winger and his 15 minute cameo against Argentina made many an Irish fan sit up and pay attention. His chance will most likely come in the Norway friendly in November.
His season has been very poor so far. Fallen out of favour at Spurs and did not look his sharpest against Armenia and Andorra.Scored in Spurs defeat to Arsenal in the league cup, he will hope that will be a catalyst for a run of games for his club side. However our captain is still a vital player and has finally created a very strong partnership with Kevin Doyle. Our lack of choice up forward make Keane even more important for our chances of progressing to Euro 2012.
Arguably the most important player for Ireland at the moment. In good form for Wolves as his two goals against Notts County Tuesday night proved, Doyle will give absolutely everything he has on the pitch and often bullies opponents much bigger than himself, as proven against Armenia. Of paramount importance to our qualifying hopes.
Finally getting into some form for Reading after a couple of barren years. Seems to be enjoying his football again under Brian McDermott. Usually behind Keogh when Trapattoni feels like bringing on a forward, Long will hope that he can make the most of the lack of competition up forward for Ireland.
His height is his saving grace. Trapattoni has a fondness of always having one tall forward, and with Folan almost always injured, and Best falling out of favour at Newcastle, Sheridan has found his niche in the squad. Irish fans will hope his game develops at CSKA Sofia. Started in CSKA’s most recent league and Europa league games, but has only once found the net.