Ireland face Denmark in the first of their two-legged World Cup play-off in Copenhagen on Saturday night.
With the Boys in Green looking to book their place at football’s premier event for the first time since 2002 – and the Danes hoping to reach the World Cup again after disappointing in 2010 – we’ve created a combined Ireland-Denmark XI – including players who are not yet fully fit or set to miss out through suspension – that would be capable of beating many sides across the globe.
GK: Kasper Schmeichel
While Darren Randolph is as reliable as they come, few could argue with this decision. Schmeichel is an established Premier League title-winning goalkeeper, and strengthens any team’s chances of victory.
The Leicester stopper has made some sensational saves in recent seasons and is a real asset to his country – just like his father before him.
RB: Seamus Coleman
Coleman’s loss cannot be understated ahead of this crucial tie. The injured Ireland captain is one of the finest full-backs in Europe when in form, and his ability to contribute at both ends of the pitch is one which Ireland have thoroughly missed in his absence.
CB: Simon Kjaer
The Sevilla man is a colossus at the back. He rarely puts in a bad performance and it will be tough for any forward to get past him.
Kjaer was a member of Europe’s best defence in his days with Lille, and his aerial ability is something that the Danes will look to use to their advantage over the next week.
CB: Shane Duffy
Duffy’s recent form has drawn praise from all corners. His personal exploits in Tbilisi as well as his incredible performance against Wales in Cardiff have landed him cult hero status as of late.
With Brighton, Duffy has also impressed – capably dealing with some of the best forwards in world football on a weekly basis. Many deem him the future star of Irish football – and should he replicate recent form – Ireland are in with more than a fighting chance.
LB: Robbie Brady
The Burnley man has a moment of brilliance in him, whether it’s a delightful cross, an important assist or a crucial goal.
Brady is not always on song, but on his day he is one of Ireland’s most creative players and well able to take the game to the opposition.
MID: Christian Eriksen
The dangerman. Eriksen is one of the top creative players in world football at present, his vision and incredible range of passing coupled with set-piece ability add another dimension to every side he’s included in.
The former Ajax man has been in red hot form for Spurs and his country so far this season – and one would imagine he will be the main source of threat from the Danish.
MID: David Meyler
The Hull midfielder just about keeps out Denmark’s Thomas Delaney and his counterpart Harry Arter, based solely on his performances in a green shirt as of late. Meyler grew into a captain’s role in the absence of Seamus Coleman – and put in plenty of assured displays, which add to Ireland’s potential to grind out important results.
His loss for the first leg will be telling, but should Ireland still be in the tie come Tuesday expect Meyler to make an influence on proceedings.
MID: Jeff Hendrick
Again, a tough choice. Hendrick has the ability to do something special. His club form has been impressive as of late, and with his knack in front of goal – he is well worth having in any team sheet.
He made a goal from nothing in Cardiff, and is an important component of Martin O’Neill’s side.
MID: James McClean
Tenacious, aggressive and incredibly passionate – there are many superlatives that can be used to describe the West Brom winger. McClean plays with his heart on his sleeve for Ireland, and has produced some of his greatest displays in a green shirt.
The hero in Vienna and the hero in Cardiff, few would bet against McClean providing the all-important goal yet again. A real fan’s favourite, and rightly so.
FW: Kasper Dolberg
Although quite young, Dolberg displays a maturity beyond his years in his performances at club level.
The 20-year old hit 23 goals for Ajax last season and – should he be included – the youngster is sure to provide a real threat to Darren Randolph in the Ireland net. Far more clinical than many of the strikers Ireland have to offer.
FW: Yussef Poulsen
The Leipzig man is creative and also has an eye for goal. He has come up with goals for Denmark as of late and should Ireland focus too much on Eriksen, Poulsen could very well take the spotlight. Looks to be a handful.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena