Five Ireland players that need to shine against England
The Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifying fate may well be decided in next weekend’s crucial clash against Scotland in Dublin, so the time has come for some of Martin O’Neill’s under-achievers to show their colours.
Here is your sundayworld.com guide to the five Ireland regulars who need to produce the goods and start delivering rare victories in the green shirt when it matters most.
Like McGeady, the FAI’s success in snaring Scottish-born McCarthy was viewed as a landmark moment and his debut against Brazil at Emirates Stadium in 2010 was hailed as a big moment for the future of the national team.
The five years that have followed have been hugely disappointing. McCarthy has been injured for far too many international matches, he missed out on Euro 2012 due to a family illness and his performances when he has played have been less than inspiring. Is McCarthy worthy of the hype around him? He needs to show he is in the next couple of Ireland matches.
Some 11 years have passed since McGeady made his senior Republic of Ireland debut in a match against Jamaica and back in those days, his capture from under the noses of the Scotland national team was being hailed as a major coup for the FAI.
All these years on, can you remember more than three occasions when McGeady got you out of your seat and turned on the style he is alleged to have in an Ireland shirt? His winning goal in the Euro 2016 qualifer in Georgia last September was a rare high point, but this Everton star needs to produce much, much more an international level.
Brady is one of many Irishman to be handed the tag of ‘the next big thing’ as he made his break in the national team and yet his display in the recent draw against Poland showed there are still plenty of rough edges to his game.
Handed a chance to take most of the set-plays against the Poles at the Aviva Stadium, this Hull play-maker fluffed his lines too often and if he is to justify a place in the team – as either a make-shift full-back or a creative performer at the heart of the action – he needs to show he is ready to make an impact in pressure situations.
There have been plenty of calls for Long to be given the chance to be Ireland’s lead striker in place of an aging Robbie Keane, but this Southampton forward has struggled to take his chance when he is thrown into the fray at the start of a match.
His value as a super-sub was confirmed with his equaliser in the draw against Poland back in March, but Ireland need to find a replacement for Keane sooner rather than later and at the age of 28, Long needs to seize his moment if he gets the start against England on Sunday.
Whelan is never going to change the course of an international with a moment of silky skill, but he needs to be able to offer more to the Ireland team than he has shown for most of his 61 appearances in national team colours.
Ireland managers past and present will argue that Whelan’s job is to provide a bite in the midfield engine room that will allow the flair players in the team to shine, but this experienced performer is often overrun when he comes up against better quality opposition. We need a holding midfielder to give the team balance, but is Whelan up to the job?