Ireland squad watch: How Martin O’Neill’s men performed at the weekend
A comprehensive look at how the 38 men fared ahead of Friday’s clash against Wales
Wes Hoolahan left the pitch injured for Norwich ahead of Ireland’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Wales. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile via Getty Images
Darren Randolph (West Ham United)
The 29-year-old continues to be West Ham’s first-choice goalkeeper this season but on Saturday he couldn’t stop champions Leicester putting three goals past him, two of which came in the first seven minutes as West Ham were beaten 3-2.
Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday)
Westwood started in goal for Wednesday on Friday as they were beaten 2-0 at home by Reading. Down 1-0 with seconds to play he went forward for a corner and was caught by a breakaway from the visitors as Adrian Popa tapped into an empty net.
Rob Elliot (Newcastle United)
The goalkeeper was on the bench for Newcastle’s 0-0 draw away to Birmingham. Elliot hasn’t played a minute for the Newcastle first team this year as Karl Darlow holds down the number one spot.
Colin Doyle (Bradford City)
Doyle will do well to be included in the cut-down matchday squad but the 31-year-old from Cork put in an assured performance on Saturday as Bradford beat Swindon 2-1.
Séamus Coleman (Everton)
The Sligo man had very little to do against a dismally poor Hull side as Everton cruised to a 4-0 win at Goodison Park. At least it means he should be fresh to face up to Gareth Bale when Friday night rolls around.
Cyrus Christie (Derby County)
It was a disappointing day for Christie as he spent the full 90 minutes on the bench as Derby drew 2-2 with Nottingham Forest in the East Midlands derby. Christie was dropped by manager Gary Rowett in his first game in charge, despite being the regular right back all season. Probably not a good omen for the 24-year-old.
Richard Keogh (Derby County)
There was no such disappointment for Keogh as he kept his place under Rowett, alongside Alex Pearce at centre back. There was little he could have done about either of Forest’s goals but will be naturally disappointed coming into international week after conceding a late equaliser in a game his side should have won.
Alex Pearce (Derby County)
Pearce joined Keogh at centre half and almost put Derby 3-1 up late on. He most likely won’t feature on Friday but the 28-year-old is beginning to show the sort of assured performances that he has lacked at times.
Paul McShane (Reading)
After scoring the winner against Wolves two weeks ago, McShane wasn’t in the Reading squad for their 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Friday due to injury. It will be touch-and-go as to whether he is fit for Friday.
Andy Boyle (Preston North End)
Boyle didn’t quite have the instant impact of Daryl Horgan after his move from Dundalk to Preston but it still hasn’t taken him long to force his way into the starting line-up. His full 90 minutes in their 2-2 draw with Blackburn was a third consecutive start after he impressed Simon Grayson on his debut two weeks ago. The performances have earned him a deserved call-up and he should make his debut, if not against Wales then certainly against Iceland next Tuesday.
John O’Shea (Sunderland)
The international break will act as a nice relief for O’Shea from the constant dark clouds that seem to be hanging over Sunderland these days. Their 0-0 draw with Burnley on Saturday means they’re now seven points off safety. He picked up a knock in the second half but, after receiving treatment, was fit to continue.
Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United)
The defender has been carrying a knock and was ruled out of the Newcastle squad earlier in the week with Rafael Benitez saying he won’t be involved until at least after the international break. That raises doubts as to whether he’ll be fit to play at all for Ireland.
John Egan (Brentford)
The 24-year-old Cork defender didn’t feature at all for Brentford on Saturday but at least he had an entertaining match to watch from the bench as his side came back from 3-1 down to win 5-3 with two goals in the last five minutes.
Stephen Ward (Burnley)
With Robbie Brady suspended for Friday’s match Ward will very likely come in at left back. That’s where he played for Burnley on Saturday in their 0-0 draw and didn’t have too much to do in what was a poor game.
Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Doherty has been impressive all season for Wolves and could probably put up a good case for a starting berth in the Iceland friendly. He was competent again on Saturday as his side recorded a 3-1 win away to Fulham.
Aiden McGeady (Preston North End)
McGeady is a new man in his role at Preston and has probably been their best player this season. He managed to stay composed when the chance came in the 93rd minute on Saturday to slot home from close range and rescue a point against Blackburn.
Daryl Horgan (Preston North End)
It hasn’t taken long for last year’s Dundalk maestro to show what he’s about in England, notching up 12 appearances, two goals and a lot of plaudits so far. Another good performance in their draw with Blackburn on Saturday sees him come into the international break high on confidence and expecting to feature, very possibly in both games.
Glenn Whelan (Stoke City)
Being dropped isn’t the best way to come into an international break but that’s the case for Whelan after he was demoted to the bench for Stoke’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea and he remained there for 90 minutes.
James McCarthy (Everton)
The seemingly endless fitness issues with McCarthy show no signs of letting up and he unsurprisingly didn’t feature for Everton on Saturday. Ronald Koeman confirmed at the start of the week that the midfielder had suffered a hamstring injury in training and is a major doubt for the Dublin showdown with Wales.
Jeff Hendrick (Burnley)
Hendrick has been a constant in the Burnley midfield since his record move from Derby and will be absolutely key on Friday night. Their 0-0 draw with Sunderland moved them eight points from safety and he should come into the Ireland camp fully focused on the crucial qualifier.
David Meyler (Hull City)
A dismal afternoon for Hull was even more dismal for Meyler as he spent a full 90 minutes on the bench watching his side being hammered 4-0 by Everton.
Liam Kelly (Reading)
The 21-year-old enjoyed his first call-up during the week but will most likely not feature in the cut down squad. However, it’s sure to be a great experience for midfielder as he will likely be a regular in the future having already garnered praise from Reading manager Jaap Stam.
Harry Arter (Bournemouth)
This could be a worry for O’Neill. A calf problem meant the midfielder failed a late fitness test for Bournemouth ahead of their win against Swansea and he had to be omitted from Eddie Howe’s squad. It could be a nervous wait for the midfielder over the next week.
Darron Gibson (Sunderland)
After receiving a booking Gibson was replaced after 74 minutes in a dour 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light. With Whelan out of form, McCarthy injured and Arter a doubt, he might just feature on Friday.
Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United)
O’Kane looked to be coming into his own since moving to Leeds but he couldn’t force his way into their starting line-up for the late kick-off against Brighton on Saturday. That also follows the decision by Garry Monk to drop him altogether two weeks ago meaning he could come into the international break low on confidence.
Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa)
Since his move from Barnsley in January, Hourihane has settled right into the Aston Villa midfield and impressed again in their 2-0 away win against Wigan. The 26-year-old from Bandon is only really coming into the international reckoning now but he looks to be maturing into a very competent midfielder.
Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City)
The 28-year-old has been a regular for Birmingham this season but only managed a few minutes off the bench on Saturday in their scoreless draw with Newcastle.
Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City)
This is a worry. Norwich claimed another win on Saturday, beating Barnsley 2-0 to stay just about in touch with the playoff places. However, Hoolahan departed the action after suffering a thigh strain and now looks to be a doubt for Friday. After the game, interim Norwich boss Alan Irvine said he was unsure how serious the injury was and added Hoolahan would likely travel to be assessed by the Irish medical staff. The last thing O’Neill needs at this stage is another injury in the midfield.
Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff City)
The 28-year-old’s excellent form this season has seen him force his way back into the international reckoning, and deservedly so. The best he can probably hope for is a place on the bench and perhaps a starting berth against Iceland. he comes into the two games off the back of a late substitute appearance in Cardiff’s 3-1 win over Ipswich on Saturday.
Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City)
The exciting 21-year-old winger has taken to the Championship like a duck to water after his move from Oxford to Bristol City in January. On Friday night he impressed again as his side cruised to a 4-0 win over Huddersfield, moving them a point above the relegation zone.
Jonathan Hayes (Aberdeen)
The winger has become a regular for Aberdeen and might end up being a key late mover into the international ranks at the age of 29. He even bagged himself a goal on Saturday with a 60th-minute strike to complete a 2-0 win over Hearts.
James McClean (West Bromwich Albion)
West Brom were excellent on Saturday as they beat Arsenal 3-1 and McClean was as good as always. He’s been superb this season and will be a major figure on Friday as Ireland will need to stand up to Wales. If there’s one man who can do that it’s the Derry man. He picked up a first-half yellow card on Saturday for a typically strong tackle on Alexis Sanchez that saw him leave the pitch injured. He also picked up the assist for Craig Dawson’s goal with an excellent corner.
Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids)
The MLS has just started its 2017 season and Colorado have picked up one win and one loss so far. Doyle started and impressed in their opening 1-0 win over New England. However, he’s quite a bit down the international striking order at this stage.
Shane Long (Southampton)
Southampton don’t play until Sunday when they take on Spurs at White Hart Lane. However, Long has struggled for starts in the last while and will continue to do so if Manolo Gabbiadini keeps up his impressive form.
David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town)
McGoldrick was left disappointed on Saturday as his Ipswich side were beaten 3-1 by Cardiff. The striker was left to work off slim pickings and was replaced after 78 minutes as Ipswich slipped to just five points above the drop zone.
Daryl Murphy (Newcastle United)
Murphy has been in and out of the Newcastle side this season but has picked up some important goals when he got his chance. However, he couldn’t do so on Saturday and was replaced after 63 minutes in their 0-0 draw with Birmingham.
Adam Rooney (Aberdeen)
The 28-year-old is going through a bit of a dry patch at the moment, failing to score since February 25th. In Aberdeen’s 2-0 win over Hearts on Saturday he was replaced with 15 minutes to play.
Jonathan Walters (Stoke City)
It’s been a somewhat disappointing season so far for the hero of Ireland’s last qualifying campaign, netting just three goals. However, one of them did come on Saturday as he equalised from the spot against Chelsea before Gary Cahill’s late winner meant his side left with nothing. Injuries mean he will be quite likely to start on Friday.