The future looks bright.
We took out our crystal ball and had a look at the Republic of Ireland team that could be representing us in 2024 to try and secure qualification for the World Cup, and it doesn’t look too bad.
Obviously there is a lot of ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’, but going by the current trajectory of these players, and the potential that they have, then here is the starting XI that could lead us to an international tournament once again.
GK: Caoimhin Kelleher
Who knows if Caoimhin Kelleher will still be at Liverpool next summer, but he has already been getting a lot more first team football this season. With Jurgen Klopp’s men playing in the Europa League this season, it appears that he has been promised a starting place in those games and alongside the Caraboa Cup, and early rounds of the FA Cup, we should be seeing a lot more of the Corkman.
Gavin Bazunu could easily keep his place if he impresses in the championship, but by 2024, we think the Liverpool shot stopper will have finally earned his stripes.
RB: Nathan Collins
Obviously he can play at centre back as well, but at right back he is a solid choice given his experience, and the fact that he is playing Premier League football regularly for Brentford is a huge bonus.
In recent years the Ireland team has been made up largely of players in the championship or below, so to have regulars competing at the top level like Collins, will add so much the squad.
CB: Dara O’Shea
Another Premier League defender, Dara O’Shea is playing under Man City legend Vincent Kompany at Burnley, and although they are struggling at the moment, he can only learn a lot from an upcoming manager who won so much as a player.
Kompany wants his team to play out from the back, regardless of the fact that they are often playing teams with superior footballers, so O’Shea will hopefully continue to learn, develop and adapt to being under pressure at this level, and then bring that experience to the ireland squad.
CB: Andrew Omobamidele/Liam Scales
Currently at Nottingham Forest Andrew Omobamidele isn’t seeing a lot of first team football at the moment, but is only and young and still learning his trade, so will hopefully start to get some games under his belt at Premier League level soon.
Forest boss Steve Cooper has said recently that the youngsters time will come, and they paid £11m for him so they obviously something there.
Liam Scales is another option for this position, and who would bet against him given his rise to stardom in such a short period of time, as the Celtic defender forced his way into Brendan Rogers team, and looks undroppable now after stringing together some very impressive performances.
LB: Ryan Manning
Currently plying his trade at Southtampton, the left back is a regular in the starting team, something which is vital for the international said as they are often in a position where they have to start players that don’t actually start for their club.
Manning has impressed so far this year, and with Seamus Coleman battling with injuries and getting another year older, this position could be his for keeps.
CDM: Josh Cullen
Another PL star who is central to the Burnley team, Josh Cullen is one of the first names on the team sheet for Kompany, and although his side are struggling, he is still putting in a lot of good performances.
CM: Andrew Moran
A hugely exciting prospect, the u21 star has been lighting it up for his country the underage tournaments, and whilst on loan to Blackburn he has not only been playing regular first team football, but has become one of the most influential players in their midfield.
Brighton manager Robert De Zerbi will be keen to get him back from his loan spell next year, and a coach as talented as him can only help bring out the best in Moran.
CM: Sammie Szmodics
Another Blackburn midfielder, Szmodics has built up a good midfield pairing with Moran, something that we hope will transfer to the International stage as well.
The midfielder will bring an attacking threat that Ireland have really had in that position for a while, and is good for adding to the goal tally as well.
RW: Chiedozie Ogbene
A powerhouse of a player, Ogbene is fast, strong, powerful, and is really finding his feet in the Premier League for Luton Town. He was particularly good in Luton’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool last weekend, and once he settles down in front of goal and finds his finishing touch, he will be a serious asset for Ireland.
LW: Mikey Johnston
Left wing is a tough position to fill at the moment for ireland, and despite getting some stick for declaring for the Republic as opposed to Scotland, Johnston has gone from strength to strength.
Originally he couldn’t get into the Celtic team, but now he’s become a real option for Rodgers, and scoring goals in the process, something which he has brought to his international career as well.
ST: Evan Ferguson
What is there to say about the Brighton battering ram that hasn’t already been said? The kid is a superstar in the making, and if he keeps progressing at the pace he is, then the world is his oyster.
This team should essentially be built around him.
Manager: Roy Keane
There are a lot of names being thrown around right now with nothing concrete really in place, but for the sake of keeping it purely Irish, then Keane is as good an option as any.
It would be very interesting to see what sort of influence he could have on young players like Ferguson, Ogbene and Moran, and he will command instant respect from his players given what he has achieved in the game, so the real question is – why not?
- Former Ireland star lays it all bare when summing up Stephen Kenny’s “legacy”
- Gus Poyet drops new hint about Ireland job as he confirms Greece exit date
- Mick McCarthy says he would have capped Declan Rice and Jack Grealish for Ireland