first_imgShane Duffy should start for Ireland against Italy tonight.COMMENT: Ireland face Italy tonight knowing nothing more than victory will be enough to see us progress to the last sixteen of the European Championships. Ireland kicked off their campaign with an excellent performance against Sweden, the game ultimately ended in a draw, but Ireland were the better side.On Saturday, a classy Belgium side dismantled a lethargic looking Ireland team, that seemed to be still feeling the effects of the match with Sweden. Tonight, they face Italy, a side already qualified and guaranteed to top the group, who are expected to make a string of changes for the match.That doesn’t make the game any easier, the players being given an opportunity tonight by Antonio Conte will be out to stake a place in his starting XI.However, below is the team I feel must play in order to give us our best opportunity to win the match – and join the rest of the sides in the last sixteen!In goals, Darren Randolph has done little wrong, and his kicking and distribution has been excellent and should keep the No.1 jersey. The back four should consist of Seamus Coleman, John O’Shea, Shane Duffy and Robbie Brady.Brady was Ireland’s best player against Sweden, and while Stephen Ward done OK on Saturday, Brady was less effective in a higher role.The reason for this is Brady didn’t receive the ball as much higher up the park because he didn’t have enough quality players to get him on it.When he plays in a deeper position like at left back, he can get the ball more often and initiate attacks from deep.He did that against Sweden and linked up with Jeff Hendrick and Wes Hoolahan brilliantly throughout. Martin Olsson for Sweden in the same fixture was their best player because he was able to do the same as Brady from left-back.Ciaran Clark looked tired on Saturday, and I think Shane Duffy deserves an opportunity, he had a fine season with Blackburn and has impressed in friendlies for Ireland.That’s a bit harsh on Andy Keogh, who has done very well for Ireland in the qualifiers, but Duffy is a better footballer and can get us playing out more from the back in my opinion.The midfield should consist of Wes Hoolahan, Jeff Hendrick, Glenn Whelan and James McClean. McClean isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but he can be extremely effective both offensively and defensively, and having a natural wide left player will give us good width and balance.I’d leave James McCarthy out, he has became a bit of a scapegoat which is unfair, but he hasn’t performed well.For his club he sits in front of the back four, and does it very effectively, for Ireland, Whelan is given that role and McCarthy is asked to play slightly further ahead of him – and in truth he isn’t comfortable playing that role.McCarthy’s best game for Ireland was against Germany when Whelan was suspended.However, Whelan was good against Sweden and I think Jeff Hendrick should partner him in midfield with Wes Hoolahan on the right.Up top, Jon Walters needs to be partnered with Shane Long.Granted there are huge, huge fitness concerns over the Stoke City man, but if hopefully he will be OK to play.He’s a huge player for us, he can hold the ball in for us high up the park and get others playing around him.He’s the perfect foil for Shane Long, and the two are Ireland’s most effective partnership up top.If Walters doesn’t make it, then I’d play Hoolahan just behind Long, move Hendrick wide right and bring McCarthy back into the side.My Ireland XI: Darren Randolph, Seamus Coleman, John O’Shea, Shane Duffy, Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan, Jeff Hendrick, Glenn Whelan, James McClean, Jon Walters, Shane Long.What team would you pick?#COYBIGCOMMENT: THIS IS THE IRELAND TEAM THAT ‘MUST’ START IF WE ARE TO QUALIFY was last modified: June 22nd, 2016 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Euro 2016IrelanditalynewsSportlast_img

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