New-look Ireland XI Stephen Kenny should pick to excite fans and get first win
Time to flip the script.
While England, Wales and Scotland fans have all been debating their squad selections for Euro 2020, Ireland are preparing for an end-of-season dart against Andorra and Hungary.
It has been a tough time, of late, for the Irish team and their fans but Stephen Kenny has given his squad an injection of energy and enthusiasm with some of his call-ups.
Four fresh faces - Daniel Mandroiu (Shamrock Rovers), Chiedozie Ogbene (Rotherham), Jamie McGrath (St. Mirren), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich) - were initially included in a 27-man squad before Peterborough's Sam Szmodics was called in as injury cover.
The squad, then, is down to 25 after the withdrawals of Darren Randolph, Aaron Connolly and Callum Robinson. Kenny will be upset at losing that established trio, but it opens up selection to some players that will be chomping at the bit.
Looking at the players Kenny has at his disposal, and recognising how Ireland are desperate for a couple of wins to give them hope heading into the new season, we are going for a strong defence before giving young players a whirl, further up the field.
Caoimhin Kelleher looked good for Liverpool this season before injury curtailed his involvement. Saying that, Gavin Bazunu has done well with the chances he has got, so we are sticking with him.
Shane Duffy and John Egan are fit again, so are restored as centre backs, while captain Seamus Coleman holds off Matt Doherty and Ryan Maning deserves a look at left-back. In midfield, we are going with youngsters Jason Knight and Jayson Molumby with 25-year-old Josh Cullen in ahead of Conor Hourihane and Harry Arter.
Up front, James Collins should get on the end of a couple of chances while, going with Kenny's preferred 4-3-3, Troy Parrott and Adam Idah will be hunting their first senior goals.
That leaves some decent and exciting young players in reserve, with the likes of Arter there if Kenny wants a bit more control in midfield. Against Andorra, though, the aim should be a quick tempo and passing through the lines, with Collins up top when we want to get balls whipped in.
Our Ireland XI to face Andorra
SUBS: Caoimhin Kelleher (GK), Mark Travers (GK), Matt Doherty, Lee O’Connor, Dara O’Shea, Andrew Omobamidele; James McClean, Conor Hourihane, Harry Arter, Jamie McGrath, Daniel Mandroiu, Chiedozie Ogbene, Ronan Curtis, Daryl Horgan, Sam Szmodics
Ireland take on Andorra from 5pm at Estadi Johan Cruyff in Barcelona.