Football | 1 week ago

Martin O'Neill always has a surprise in store.

His team sheets get hard to predict because he always throws a spanner into the works and catches everyone off guard.

On Tuesday night, in Ireland's do-or-die clash for a place in the World Cup, he could do a number of things.

1. Shane Long for Murphy

Straight swap.

Ireland could well deploy the same 11 which was effective in nullifying Denmark. O'Dowda was a surprise inclusion on the right flank on Saturday but the manager is a fan of him, he worked his socks off in Copenhagen and he will look to take men on which could be a huge asset in the home fixture where Ireland will need to score if they're going to avoid penalties.

Daryl Murphy was the quietest in that first leg having produced just 20 touches of the ball and, regardless if we're going to play long balls or hit the channels, Shane Long could provide a better option as the lone front man but it won't change the shape in any way.

2. Wes

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In Wes we trust.

We're at home, we'll need a goal at some stage (again, please let's avoid penalties) and Hoolahan is the country's most creative player. He's also much better from the start of a game where he can set the tone early on and be the focal point of every attack. When he's introduced late on, he's standing in the middle of high balls or ones being pushed down towards the corner flag.

O'Dowda would go and Arter would also presumably lose out in this scenario unless Meyler just didn't come in.

3. Back to the diamond

This has served us well for so long under O'Neill.

You get the most out of Meyler, you get the most out of Hoolahan and McClean is further forward as extra help to our striker who - no matter who it's been recently - has been left stranded too much.

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4. 4-3-3

A formation that beat Italy and rattled the French.

One where Brady and Hendrick flourished. One which has Long and Murphy and allows McClean further forward.

Good to know we've options anyway.

While you're here, check out the latest episode of #SportsJOElive where we had Irish legends Shay Given and Clinton Morrison on the couch!


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Republic of Ireland, Martin O'Neill