An exciting Ireland XI we could easily start against Bulgaria
Such a shame that Troy Parrott had to pull out. We had plans for him.
Stephen Kenny has been forced into a couple of squad tweaks but, all things considered, he has enough quality resources on hand to pick an exciting Ireland team to face Bulgaria on Thursday.
Matt Doherty making his move to Tottenham, Preston's Sean Maguire and Alan Browne picking up where they left off and Troy Parrott getting his second goal of Millwall's pre-season [below]. It was another encouraging weekend for Ireland supporters.
Troy Parrott... ice cool! 🧊 pic.twitter.com/Oth4SC7gmb
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) August 29, 2020
News, then, of Parrott being withdrawn from the squad as an injury precaution have dampened the mood, if only slightly. Maguire replaces the Tottenham loanee while Dara O'Shea of newly promoted West Brom is also in the squad.
James McCarthy is taking it handy in training, since linking up with the squad, but Kenny told a press briefing, on Sunday, that the Crystal Palace midfielder was eager to get playing international football again. Kenny has Harry Arter at his disposal, for that holding midfielder role, but McCarthy will be hoping for game-time against Bulgaria and Finland [on Sunday].
The new Ireland boss will be looking to impress a playing style in his image over the coming months, and his squad selection already reflects that, but he will be conscious of the need to get off to a positive start. Two wins [or four points] and some positive football would be enough to stoke the embers of positivity here.
David McGoldrick is only available for the Finland game so it leaves the door open to the likes of Maguire, Shane Long, Adam Idah and Arron Connolly.
Who plays in support of the frontman will be intriguing, too, with Conor Hourihane and Alan Browne vying for that role. Jeff Hendrick or Robbie Brady could also be deployed further up but, playing away, one could see both dropping back from that No.10 role despite the Bulgarians being no great shakes.
We would be more than open to Kenny going 3-5-2 with Enda Stevens and Matt Doherty as wing-backs and a back three of Egan, Duffy and Coleman, but the Tallaght native favours 4-3-3 and can switch to 4-3-2-1 given the circumstances of each game. To that end, we have gone for the following team:
Our Ireland XI to face Bulgaria
Depending on McCarthy's fitness, Harry Arter or Jeff Hendrick could step in but we would love to see Molumby get a couple of starts in midfield. Should he impress, it may well convince Brighton boss Graham Potter that he is worth keeping around for the upcoming Premier League season.
Hourihane is our link-man to the attack while Brady is a work-horse option on the right and Connolly could cause trouble for Bulgaria on the left, and cutting in. Idah gets our vote ahead of Long as we would like to see what the young striker is made of.
In terms of the bench that would be left to replenish that Ireland team, that leaves the likes of Coleman, Browne, Arter, Long, James McClean and Callum O'Dowda ready to make a difference.