The Ireland XI that should start against Armenia in Nations League opener
Ireland kick-off their Nations League campaign against Armenia on Saturday afternoon.
The Republic of Ireland play Armenia on Saturday afternoon at the Republic Stadium in Yerevan.
Ireland manager Stephen Kenny will be targeting a successful Nations League campaign as the team have never won a game in the competition. They will arguably never get a better chance to end that unwarranted run than on Saturday
Ireland's opponents are ranked 92nd in the FIFA world rankings and come into the match on the back of a 9-0 loss to Norway.
Here is the starting XI we believe Kenny should pick for the game, which is the first of four matches in 10 days for Ireland. Ukraine and Scotland are next up in the Nations League.
Ireland's starting XI v Armenia.
In this XI, Ireland line out in a 3-4-3 formation, and Gavin Bazunu starts in goal as Kenny's trusted first-choice goalkeeper. The Manchester City goalkeeper kept 16 clean sheets on loan at Portsmouth last season in League One and has impressed for Ireland.
At the centre of the back three is Shane Duffy. The Brighton defender has been a mainstay for Ireland over the last year and has been one of the team's key players.
Duffy is a no-nonsense defender who also provides an ariel threat in attack. The Derryman net seven times in 54 caps for the Boys in Green.
Either side of Duffy in this back three are John Egan and Nathan Collins. Egan has been a crucial part of Sheffield United's season, making 48 appearances for the Blades, which saw them narrowly miss out in the Play-off semi-final to Nottingham Forest.
The Corkman put in a man-of-the-match performance for Kenny's side against Belgium in March and has been Ireland's best defender over the last few years.
Collins, 22, was a revelation for relegated Burnley in defence under interim boss Mike Jackson during the final weeks of the season. The Kildare native was even nominated for Premier League player of the month for April. Against Lithuania in March, Collins was named man-of-the-match for Ireland.
Captain Seamus Coleman starts at right-wing-back. The 34-year-old played a vital role as Everton retained their Premier League status, making 30 appearances - his highest in seven seasons. The Donegal native has played at right centre-back to accommodate Matt Doherty. However, due to the Spurs defender's injury, Coleman starts in the wing-back role.
At left-wing-back, James McClean comes back into the side. The former Derry City player is well suited to Kenny's wing-back formation as it's a system he plays for Wigan Athletic.
The 33-year-old enjoyed a successful campaign last season as the Latics finished first in League One. McClean scored nine goals and provided seven assists in 33 appearances.
In midfield, Jeff Hendrick comes into the side to earn his 71st cap for the Boys in Green. The 30-year-old will play as a box-to-box midfielder in order to spark Ireland's attacks from the middle of the park.
The Newcastle midfielder, who spent the second half of last season on loan with Queens Park Rangers, starts alongside Josh Cullen, who was made available on Wednesday as his suspension got overturned due to a paperwork error by UEFA.
Cullen has been a mainstay for Ireland during Kenny's tenure. The addition of the 25-year-old to the starting lineup is a major boost for the Boys in Green. Cullen was a vital asset for Anderlecht last season as he made 50 appearances for Vincent Kompany's side.
Chiedozie Ogbene starts for Ireland on the right-wing. The 25-year-old enjoyed a successful campaign with Rotherham United last season as they won promotion to the Championship and claimed silverware at Wembley where they won the Papa Johns Trophy.
The Corkman is out of contract with the Millers and will be eager to impress during the Nations League campaign in hope of earning a move. Ogbene will be hopeful of building on his goal and assist against Belgium in March.
On the left-wing, Jason Knight starts for Ireland. The midfielder was a mainstay for Wayne Rooney's side last season as he scored twice and provided three assists in 38 appearances for Derby County.
The former Cabinteely midfielder will be eager to impress for the Boys in Green as Premier League clubs remain interested in signing the 21-year-old. Knight will have his sights set on playing football at a higher standard than League One next season.
Callum Robinson leads the attack for Kenny's side in Yerevan. The West Brom attacker has been Ireland's most prolific goal scorer towards the end of 2021, when he scored a hat-trick against Qatar and a brace against Azerbaijan.
Robinson scored seven goals and provided nine assists in 43 appearances for West Brom last season in the Championship. The Boys in Green will be reliant on the 27-year-olds attacking flair during the Nations League campaign.
Troy Parrott narrowly misses out after his super-sub heroics against Lithuania. The Spurs attacker, who enjoyed a successful loan spell at MK Dons, scored 10 goals last season. The 21-year-old provides Kenny a different dimension from the bench, therefore, the Dubliner will be confident of making an impact if called upon.
Here is the XI that we believe Kenny should pick for Saturday's match against Armenia.
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