Possible Republic of Ireland squad for EURO 2020, if they qualify

EURO 2020 will take place next summer. The Republic of Ireland’s fate will largely be decided in the coming week, as of the writing of this piece. As it stands, Mick McCarthy’s side have three remaining qualification matches to play. With Ireland currently in a good position to qualify, we have been considering what the Ireland squad for EURO 2020 will look like.

We will have a good idea of the likelihood of Ireland’s EURO 2020 qualification after this international break. Ireland can’t afford to look past the next game. However, should they remain in a position to qualify from their group going into their final group game, making the EURO 2020 final tournament squad will surely be creeping into some players’ minds. 

One thing that Mick McCarthy can’t be accused of throughout this campaign is unpredictability. While the coach has played around with a couple of different systems, his player selection has been consistent. So much so, that nine players have started all five of Ireland’s group games so far. 

McCarthy has reliable names that he can fit into his team regardless of the system or the opposition. This is valuable for an international team manager. International management differs from club management in many ways. One of the key differences is the amount of time the coach has with his players. 

Ireland’s players spend much less time with each other than they do with their clubmates. It is then much more difficult for McCarthy to drill and implement complex tactical systems. However, being consistent with team selection is one sure way to help the national team gel.

Some players have played a crucial role throughout Ireland’s qualification campaign. We are confident that a certain set of players will comprise the spine of Ireland’s 23 man squad. The nine names to have started all of Ireland’s qualifiers thus far are Darren Randolph, Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh, Enda Stevens, Conor Hourihane, Jeff Hendrick, James McClean, and David McGoldrick. 

The majority of these players will make Ireland’s EURO 2020 squad, should they qualify.

McCarthy will leave the Ireland job after EURO 2020 at the latest, should Ireland qualify. As a result, he can concern himself more with ensuring immediate success, rather than planning for the future. 

Current U21 boss Stephen Kenny will be the senior team manager after EURO 2020. Kenny has been active in working with Ireland’s best U21 talents. He has already been putting his stamp on Ireland’s U21 squad. This has placed more of an importance on Ireland’s U21 squad than there previously had been. 

Previously, many Irish players have leapfrogged the U21 stage. However, the opportunity for Ireland’s young players and Ireland’s next manager to familiarise themselves with one another has been taken seriously. 

Many of Ireland’s U21 players have impressed of late. However, we don’t expect many of them to be thrust into the EURO 2020 squad without playing in the qualifiers. Should young Irish players go on to have breakthrough seasons, they will, of course, make a case for themselves. However, as of this moment, we expect McCarthy to rely on the more experienced names for EURO 2020.

Barring any freak injuries, such as Richard Keogh’s current injury, we feel that we have a good idea of Ireland’s potential EURO 2020 squad. 

We feel that McCarthy could name the following 23-man-squad for the final tournament:

Goalkeepers:

Darren Randolph, Kieran Westwood, Mark Travers:

Darren Randolph has been Ireland’s number one consistently since the EURO 2016 qualifiers in 2015. His performances have kept Ireland in the game at times. He has started every game during this qualification campaign. Ireland have conceded just two goals from five games so far. Randolph has been an integral part of Ireland’s backline and he will be Ireland’s number one in the EURO’s. 

Kieran Westwood is Ireland’s second most capped active goalkeeper, behind Randolph. He has been left out of recent Ireland squads due to injury. However, the 34-year-old’s experience would be valuable for EURO 2020. 

Bournemouth back-up Mark Travers will likely act as Ireland’s third-choice goalkeeper at the EURO’s. He started Ireland’s most recent friendly vs Bulgaria. This likely indicates his place in the pecking order for Mick McCarthy. 

Defenders:

Seamus Coleman, Enda Stevens, Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy, John Egan, Kevin Long, Darragh Lenihan. 

Ireland’s back four has picked itself thus far throughout the qualification campaign. Richard Keogh’s season-ending injury does create a problem for Mick McCarthy. Keogh and Shane Duffy have formed a formidable partnership in the Irish defense. Keogh will be unlikely to travel to the EURO’s if Ireland qualify, due to injury. 

Seamus Coleman, Enda Stevens, and Matt Doherty will be Ireland’s full-backs at the EURO’s. Coleman has been one of Ireland’s best players for years, while Stevens has been one of the Premier League’s best left-backs this season. Matt Doherty has been excellent in the Premier League for Wolves. He can provide quality cover at either full-back position. 

Shane Duffy, John Egan, and Kevin Long have been consistent members of Ireland’s squad under Mick McCarthy. The real dilemma at the center-back position for McCarthy is who to draft in to replace Keogh. 

We feel that one of the Blackburn Rovers duo of Darragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams will make the squad. Neither of the two are very experienced at international level, with just 3 caps between them. We are giving the nod to Lenihan in our squad. 

Midfielders: 

Conor Hourihane, Glenn Whelan, Jeff Hendrick, James McCarthy, Alan Judge, Robbie Brady, James McClean, Callum O’Dowda.

James McCarthy was named in Ireland’s original 23 man squad for September’s EURO 2020 qualifiers. Image source: FAI.ie

Ireland’s potential midfield selections for EURO 2020 are more difficult to pin down. Hourihane, Hendrick, and McClean have been ever-present members of Ireland’s squad throughout this campaign. They should have a place secured in Ireland’s EURO 2020 squad. 

Glenn Whelan’s international future wasn’t looking bright a year or so ago. He didn’t feature in any of Ireland’s UEFA Nations League games. He was left out of the Ireland squad for seven straight games in 2018. This was his longest stretch out of the squad since his international debut in 2008. 

However, his international career has been reinvigorated under Mick McCarthy. Whelan has been in the squad for all of Ireland’s EURO 2020 qualifiers. We expect him to be a member of Mick McCarthy’s EURO 2020 squad. 

James McCarthy started his first game since January 2018 for Crystal Palace vs West Ham on the fifth of October. He will take time to return to the Ireland set-up following his leg break. However, by the end of the season, we expect him to be fit enough to join McCarthy’s squad. 

Robbie Brady has been left out of recent Ireland squads. He has struggled to secure game-time at club level. However, his versatility and experience will be crucial for a tournament like EURO 2020. Whether he moves club in January, or he breaks into Burnley’s team, we expect him to feature in Ireland’s EURO 2020 squad. 

Callum O’Dowda and Alan Judge have been enjoying their season in the Championship. They have been reliable members of Mick McCarthy’s squad. They will likely make up the rest of McCarthy’s midfield options.

Forwards: 

David McGoldrick, Callum Robinson, James Collins, Scott Hogan, Aaron Connolly

David McGoldrick’s first Ireland goal came vs Switzerland in September. Image source: FAI.ie

David McGoldrick has been Mick McCarthy’s go-to center-forward throughout the EURO 2020 qualification campaign. He has quickly become popular among the Irish faithful thanks to his performances in this competition. He will likely be the first attacker on McCarthy’s team-sheet. 

McGoldrick’s club-mate Callum Robinson is a versatile attacker. As McCarthy usually plays with just one center-forward, versatility will be key for the attackers in Ireland’s EURO 2020 squad. Robinson has featured heavily in Ireland’s EURO 2020 qualification campaign. He will likely retain his place in the squad. 

James Collins is on course for an impressive Championship season. He has bagged five goals from eleven games thus far for Luton Town. He scored his first Ireland goal on his debut versus Bulgaria in September. Scott Hogan has also impressed in the Championship this season, scoring three from seven appearances. These two forwards will likely make Ireland’s squad. 

Ireland’s final attacking spot could go to a number of players. We have given the nod to Aaron Connolly of Brighton. Connolly is just 19-years-old, however, he has impressed for Brighton in his short Premier League career. 

Connolly has been on track for big things throughout his days in Brighton youth squads. He is on course for a big Premier League season. If he continues to play regularly for Brighton, he should make McCarthy’s EURO 2020 squad.

Michael Obafemi, Sean Maguire, and even veteran forward Shane Long are other attackers who could potentially find their way into the squad. However, this is how we expect the Ireland squad to look, if they qualify for EURO 2020.

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