Martin O’Neill has released his 34 man squad for the 2018 World Cup play-offs against Denmark on the 11th and 14th of November.
Irish stalwarts Seamus Coleman and Jonathan Walters are omitted due to injury, but three Championship call-ups were made in defender Matt Doherty of Wolves, Reading’s veteran Paul McShane, and centre midfielder Alan Browne of Preston North End.
The above news raised some interesting topics that Martin O’Neill was keen to address following the announcement.
The biggest news to emerge from today’s press conference is that despite his knee injury in September seemingly ruling him out of the rest of the qualifying campaign, Jon Walters could yet make it to the crucial play-off games.
“I haven’t put him in this squad although he is making good progress and we’ll see what the next ten days might bring,” O’Neill told the media.
“I’ve spoken to him and he’s making good progress. Jon has played and he’s played this season. He played for us quite recently so we’ll see. Let’s see what the next seven, eight or nine days bring.”
Another regular starter that could be making his return to the first team is James McCarthy. The 26-year-old midfielder hadn’t played for club or country since March until a 45 minute cameo for Everton’s under-23 side last week. A 64 minute appearance against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup last night saw him make further progression in his return to fitness.
McCarthy was also named in the provisional squad for the Modolva and Wales ties, but didn’t make the final team. With David Meyler’s suspension for the first leg against the Danes, McCarthy’s return could lend some much needed and well-timed experience to the Irish midfield.
“I was at the game (against Chelsea) he played for an hour. It’s a good hour for him against very good opposition. He seemed to be alright, which is good for us.”
Elsewhere, Matt Doherty is set to compete with established right-back Cyrus Christie for a starting berth. The uncapped 25-year-old has been relied upon heavily by Wolves since 2014, although he was an unused substitute in their gallant loss to Manchester City on Tuesday.
The return of Paul McShane, who earned his first senior cap back in 2006, is also set to bolster competition for defensive spots in the side.
“I’ve never seen them [McShane and Doherty] as ‘out’ of the overall squad, even if they haven’t made the final cut in the past.”
The squad in full can be seen below.
Republic of Ireland Squad
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), Colin Doyle (Bradford City)
Defenders: Cyrus Christie (Middlesbrough), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Paul McShane (Reading), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Kevin Long, Stephen Ward (Burnley)
Midfielders: Aiden McGeady (Sunderland), Daryl Horgan, Alan Browne (Preston North End), Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), James McCarthy (Everton), Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United), David Meyler (Hull City), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Jonny Hayes (Celtic), James McClean (West Brom)
Forwards: Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest), David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town), Sean Maguire (Preston), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Aiden O’Brien (Millwall)