Talking points ahead of Ireland v Switzerland

SoccerBy Sunday World
Ireland's Euro 2016 countdown continues
Ireland's Euro 2016 countdown continues

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill will run the rule over some of his fringe players as he begins preparations for the Euro 2016 finals in earnest with Friday's friendly against Switzerland.

Here are some of the talking points surrounding the game.


Perhaps one of O'Neill's biggest decisions ahead of the tournament is who will be his first-choice goalkeeper. He has confirmed that Newcastle's Rob Elliot and West Ham's Darren Randolph will each start one of the two friendlies against the Swiss and Slovakia on Tuesday night and with veteran Shay Given batting his way back from a knee injury, they and Millwall's David Forde seem likely to battle it out for the number one spot.


O'Neill has included Shane Duffy, Matt Doherty, Eunan O'Kane, Stephen Gleeson, Alan Judge and Jonny Hayes in his squad, all of whom have little or no international experience. Brentford midfielder Judge in particular has met up on several occasions, but has yet to be handed a debut, and he will hope for an opportunity to press his claims for a seat on the plane to France.


Robbie Keane's 67 international goals in 143 senior international appearances illustrate just how important he has been to his country for the last 18 years. But as he approaches his 36th birthday, his time at the spearhead of the Ireland frontline is drawing to a close and O'Neill knows he must find the man to replace him. Shane Long, whose winner against world champions Germany rekindled the Republic's qualifying campaign, Jonathan Walters and Daryl Murphy are the leading candidates for the role.


For all O'Neill will use the Switzerland game to experiment, he will also want to extend a run of results which has seen Ireland lose only once in six outings this season, a 2-1 defeat in Poland in their final qualifier. However to do that, they may have to keep a tight rein on Xherdan Shaqiri, who has been in fine form for Stoke in the Premier League this season, and club-mates Glenn Whelan and Walters will need no reminder of the threat he poses.