Awaiting the call

Ten years of waiting will finally come to an end this summer in Poland for the boys in green.

The fiasco of Saipan was the prelude to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, which was the last time Ireland competed in a major international tournament.

Despite the euphoria that will flow up and down the country come June, it will be bittersweet for those who fail to make Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad.

Five players who will most likely miss out, but deserve a trip to Poland are; James McClean, Ciaran Clark, Wesley Hoolahan, Anthony Pilkington and Anthony Stokes.


Irish captain Robbie Keane is certain to make the cut

McClean has been the most talked about Irish player in recent months. After failing to see any time for Sunderland under Steve Bruce, McClean has been sensational since Martin O’Neill gave the young Irish man a chance.

McClean is filled with pace which makes him a danger on the flank. He can get to the byline and most importantly he can pick out a pass. The current Irish midfield is extremely slow and lack depth out wide; McClean could resolve that issue but despite his recent call-up it is unlikely he will be on the plane to Poland.

The Norwich duo of Wesley Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington also deserve a mention. Hoolahan has proved he can both score and assist scoring at the highest level. Hoolahan, like McClean, would add much needed pace and flair to a mundane Irish midfield. Pilkington has been in great form in front of goal – scoring eight and even grabbing an assist as well for good measure.

Both players have played vital roles in helping Norwich climb into the top half of the Premier League combining for 16 goals, be it scored or created.

Despite a lack of first-team football Ciaran Clark still deserves a place. Left-back is a major liability for the Irish team and Clark is more than capable of putting in solid performances in the green. An additional bonus of bringing Clark along is his versatility. Clark can play anywhere along the backline and can move further forward into defensive or centre midfield.

Football strategy in its most basic form is “score more goals than them” and Anthony Stokes is a proven goal-scorer. In the two seasons prior to this he has scored at least 20 goals per season and is on track to do so once again this season. His goal scoring record for Celtic and Hibernian combined gives an average of a goal every second game.

Stokes has scored more goals this season alone than Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Simon Cox and Jonathan Walters have combined.

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