With Ireland due to take on Denmark next Saturday in Cophenhagen, we examine some of the potential lineups Martin O’Neill could field in the World Cup play-off first leg tie.
David Meyler is suspended for the first leg while Jon Walters, James McCarthy, Sean Maguire and Seamus Coleman miss out through injury.
O’Neill has a reputation of rotating systems and players and it is hard to know exactly how the Boys in Green will line out next weekend.
O’Neill has gained a fondness for the 4-3-3/4-5-1 variation, which heralded the 1-0 victory over Wales. In another away tie, The Derryman may opt for the same side that defeated the Welsh with the only change being Meyler’s withdrawal due to suspension.
Glenn Whelan is the most likley to take Meyler’s place and the captaincy with Ireland looking for a tight and disciplined performance.
Ireland defeated Germany, Bosnia and Italy playing the 4-4-2 diamond formation and O’Neill may opt for this given the indication by Denmark boss Age Hareide that the home side will play a narrow game.
Ireland play their most fluid football with this formation but with Whelan, Harry Arter and JeffHendrick offer a bit of bite when defending. James McClean has played a free role in this system with a tight call between Shane Long and Daryl Murphy who has just returned from injury.
Balanced Approach (4-2-3-1)
This lineup would offer balance by playing two pacy full-backs in Robbie Brady and Cyrus Christie and James McClean and Aiden McGeady on their more comfortable sides. Dropping Stephen Ward is unlikely but Brady is the more attacking threat.
Arter and Hendrick offer the box-to-box options in midfield and can fulfil both an attacking and defensive role. Wes Hoolahan offers the creative link for one of Shane Long or Daryl Murphy.
The In-Form Side (4-2-3-1)
The most unlikely of lineups given that Matt Doherty is uncapped and Eunan O’Kane only has a handful of internationals under his belt. Ward, Brady and Hendrick are on a serious run of form for Burnley with the latter now playing in a more advanced midfield role.
Callum O’Dowda is finally reaping the benefits of getting some consecutive games and could yet be a surprise starter against the Danes. Murphy has just returned from injury and pips Maguire by virtue of the Preston man being ruled out of the play-off ties.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena