World Cup playoffs: Ireland player profiles
Martin O’Neill’s likely starting line-up for Saturday’s crunch trip to Copenhagen
James McClean in action for West Brom. The winger has been Ireland’s key player durnig the qualification campaign. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters
23 Darren Randolph
Randolph has been pretty much faultless throughout the qualification campaign and is Ireland’s undoubted number one. Having a settled centre-half partnership playing in front of him has been beneficial.
2 Cyrus Christie
While he has his limitations Christie has ensured the absence of Seamus Coleman hasn’t been felt quite as keenly as expected. He doesn’t provide the attacking thrust of his injured skipper but has been a more than dependable replacement.
23 Shane Duffy
Club: Brighton & Hove Albion
A centre-half in the old fashioned mould, Duffy is Ireland’s biggest presence in the air both at the back and going forward. Has flourished for Brighton in the Premier League and is now Ireland’s first choice centre-back.
3 Ciaran Clark
Club: Newcastle United
A calm head, Clark reads the game well and sweeps up in an understated fashion. The Newcastle defender is a perfect foil for the all-action Duffy, and the two of them have provided Ireland with a solid, dependable partnership.
17 Stephen Ward
Ward can be frustrating at times - often too easily caught on the outside and with his distribution sometimes wanting - but he has really grown into the qualification campaign. A regular for Martin O’Neill and Sean Dyche, he must be doing something right.
22 Harry Arter
Neat and tidy, Ireland’s ball retention is often better with Arter in the middle. The Bournemouth man also has a bit of bite about him, and is an indutrious presence in a sometimes stagnant midfield.
6 Glenn Whelan
Club: Aston Villa
David Meyler’s suspension opens the door for the Aston Villa midfielder to come back into the side. Can sometimes slow Ireland down but should benefit from having plenty of running alongside him in midfield.
13 Jeff Hendrick
Showed his value to the side when creating James McClean’s winner in Cardiff. Has been in fine form for Burnley and Ireland will need his class and craft against the Danes.
10 Robbie Brady
Ireland are unlikely to see much of the ball in Copenhagen so Brady’s set-piece prowess will be vital. When Ireland do have the ball, he can keep things ticking along with Hendrick and Arter.
11 James McClean
Club: West Bromwich Albion
Ireland’s key man and the player of the qualification campaign so far. His tireless running will be key and with him O’Neill’s side are always a real threat on the break.
8 Daryl Murphy
Club: Nottingham Forest
Murphy has been rejuvenated since joining Nottingham Forest and at 34-years-old is in the international form of his life. A physical presence, his hold up play will be key in helping Ireland get on the front foot.