With the Euro 2020 draw now made, Mick McCarthy will begin to plan his squad for March.
A shrewd and blunt operator, McCarthy holds a much more no-nonsense approach to players not pulling their weight than Martin O’Neill.
O’Neill was a manager of great loyalty and this was sometimes detrimental, selecting players who had drifted out of form despite shining on occasion for Ireland.
McCarthy may not take the same approach and given the fact he only has roughly 10 games in charge, he will be forced to play his strongest hand which may see some fan favourites axed should their lack of form continue.
In addition to this, there may be players who could benefit from O’Neill’s sacking as a change in guard could bring about alternative personnel.
We examine five players who could benefit from the change in management.
David McGoldrick (Sheffield United)
Having starred under McCarthy at Ipswich, David McGoldrick is enjoying a fruitful season at high flying Sheffield United.
His Irish involvement has been restricted despite a flawless debut against the United States in 2014 and he will be hoping to be reintroduced to the setup by his old boss.
A creative outlet and instinctive finisher, McGoldrick could slot in nicely to the number 10 role and provide the link Ireland have missed between midfield and attack. A firm favourite of McCarthy and fits in nicely to some of the systems he could deploy.
Aiden McGeady (Sunderland)
A much-criticised player but Aiden McGeady is in flying form with Sunderland right now.
In his defence, he was underutilised as an impact sub despite being in terrific form for both Preston and Sunderland in the last two seasons.
Fans are quick to forget his involvement in the Euro 2016 qualifiers and the driving run in the lead up to Robbie Brady’s goal in Lille.
A veteran who has more experience and quality than some of Ireland’s squad members of the last year. Northern Ireland have shown that League 1 players can thrive internationally and McGeady is arguably the best player in the league.
Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa)
Despite being one of the best midfielders in the Championship, Conor Hourihane had been poorly utilised by Martin O’Neill.
A box-to-box midfielder by trade, O’Neill played Hourihane as a midfield anchor, a position he does not have the mobility nor physicality for.
Hourihane thrives on the left of a three or paired with a more defensive midfielder and has a similar playing style to Matt Holland, a man McCarthy got the best out of in an Irish shirt.
McCarthy could be the man to help the Corkonian translate his domestic form onto the international stage.
Cillian Sheridan (Jagiellonia)
Under Martin O’Neill, there was a clamour of calls for the return of Cillian Sheridan from the international wilderness. The Cavan man was not only scoring goals in Cyprus and then Poland but also playing in Europe.
However, his form has dipped somewhat in the last year which pushed him further down the pecking order.
Many Mick McCarthy teams have has a big target man and there are not too many knocking around for Ireland since Daryl Murphy retired.
At 6’5, Sheridan fits the bill and despite his size has a good turn of pace, finishing ability and is excellent at holding up the ball. McCarthy could see him as a Niall Quinn type player that could offer something alternative up top.
Matt Doherty (Wolves)
Having been given his big break by McCarthy, Dubliner Matt Doherty has been one of the Premier Leagues best fullbacks this season.
Despite this, he has been unfortunate as he is playing second fiddle to Seamus Coleman. However, McCarthy will be keen to accommodate both with possibilities of Coleman moving to the right of a back three.
At the 2002 World Cup, McCarthy had a similar dilemma with Steve Finnan and Gary Kelly, eventually playing Kelly on the right flank.
Both Doherty and Coleman could play on the right wing and given Ireland’s lack of players in the position, McCarthy could deploy a similar method that accommodated Finnan and Kelly.