Giovanni Trapattoni has named his provisional Irish squad for the upcoming bumper four match series involving the World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands and the glamour fixtures with England in Wembley and Spain in New York. Norwich’s Anthony Pilkington is included but is due to be married in the middle of the packed two-week schedule.
The Derby County trio of Keogh, Hendrick and the much maligned Conor Sammon retain their places while Aiden McGeady returns to the squad. Ciaran Clark, Kevin Doyle and Keith Andrews are ruled out through injury while Richard Dunne was given no chance of featuring by his club manager Paul Lambert.
Trapattoni took in Pilkington and Norwich’s 4-0 win over West Brom at the weekend and the 24-year-old has again been called up. Injury has prevented his first run-out in an Irish shirt to date and with his wedding taking place two days after the England game, he’s unlikely to feature in most of these upcoming fixtures.
Arguably the most prestigious tie is the reunion with the world and European champions Spain, the first since the mauling at Euro 2012. The clash in Yankee Stadium, New York, will be a fourth game in 14 days for Ireland, but coming at the end of a long season, the prospect of withdrawals is likely.
First up, however, is a trip to Wembley for a first meeting with England since the infamous Lansdowne Road riots in 1995.
A large Irish contingent is expected to cross the Irish sea, bolstered by ex-pats living in London. The friendly is taking place to mark the 150th anniversary of the FA. England will travel to Rio four days later to face Brazil while Ireland will play Georgia in an Aviva Stadium friendly in preparation for the key World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands on June 7th.
A big win will be required to boost Ireland’s poor goal difference in Group C and Trapattoni’s men cannot afford any more slip-ups following the heartbreak of conceding a late equaliser to Austria.
In five games in Group C, Ireland have scored nine times but have conceded 10. We’ve already faced the Faroes away from home winning 4-1. Though Ireland are level on 8 points with Austria and Sweden, the Swedes have a game in hand and Austria are ahead on goal difference helped by a 6-0 win over the islanders.
Republic of Ireland squad: Forde, Westwood, Randolph, O’Shea, St Ledger, Delaney, R Keogh, Wilson, Coleman, Kelly, O’Dea, McShane, Whelan, McCarthy, Green, Hendrick, McGeady, Pilkington, McClean, Brady, Meyler, A Keogh, Keane, Long, Sammon, Walters, Cox and Hoolahan