- Lifestyle & Sports
- 11 Nov 17
Martin O'Neill had at least one major surprise up his sleeve when he named the team to represent Ireland tonight in Copenhagen.
Callum O'Dowda of Bristol City has been thrust into the forefront of Ireland's World Cup qualification bid. The adopted Irishman – the grandson of the legendary Irish tenor Brendan O'Dowda– has been chosen ahead of both Wes Hoolahan and Glenn Whelan for tonight's crunch World Cup play-off against Denmark.
O'Dowda can play wide (generally on the left) or in the position 'behind the striker' – which is where he might be used tonight. Confident, quick and determined, the Bristol City player is a natural footballer, who likes running at the opposition. He also has an eye for goal, having got on the score-sheet recently for the Championship contenders.
His inclusion means that there is no room for either pundits' favourite Wes Hoolahan or the more defensively-minded Glenn Whelan. As a result, Harry Arter and Jeff Hendrick will be the defensive midfielders, whose mission will be to shield the back four, in what is otherwise a predictable line-up. The wide-men will be likely be James McClean (pictured) and O'Dowda - though there is a possibility that Brady might be given a wide role, with either McClean or O'Dowda dropping inside.
The full team reads: Randolph; Christie, Duffy, Clark (captain), Ward; Brady, Arter, Hendrick, McClean; O'Dowda; Murphy.
The selection of Daryl Murphy means that there is no room for Shane Long – though the Southampton striker is likely to be introduced at some stage, as Murphy is unlikely to last for the entire 90 minutes.
The stage is now set for a fascinating contest. We will not end with the cliché "May the better team win." Because we desperately, to put it bluntly, want Ireland to win.
(offstage) "Up the Repubbellic."