Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is a man known for picking players who have impressed for him in the past and is often happy to ignore club form in favour of selecting players he trusts. Here we take a look at how the Irish team could look if he selected it on form.
The Newcastle goalkeeper has been locked in a battle for the Ireland number one shirt with Darren Randolph and Keiren Westwood for some time now but has the advantage of now plying his trade in the Premier League against a higher quality of opposition.
Elliot has cemented his starting place in Rafael Benitez’s side, playing every minute of their league campaign thus far and conceding just five goals in the process. Even in the games where he hasn’t been able to keep a clean sheet, Elliot has impressed, no more so than his stunning last-gasp save on the line from Brighton's Solly March at the weekend.
Christie has been in a rich vein of form for Middlesbrough of late and he has openly spoken about how a summer move from Derby to the Riverside has brought about a new lease of life for him, having played under no fewer than six different managers at Pride Park.
Now settled in at Middlesbrough, Christie has played every league game this season and looks really solid at the back and an extra option going forward. He even chipped in with a crucial goal last weekend, firing home from six yards out in the dying stages of their game with Fulham to earn them a 1-1 draw.
Almost certain to start in both of Ireland’s final qualifying games, Duffy has been one of the outstanding performers for Brighton and Hove Albion in their first season in the Premier League and he’s formed a real solid centre-back partnership with Lewis Dunk.
Duffy is another player who has been on the pitch for every minute of his side’s league campaign and he’s growing as a defender and a leader at Brighton, helping them to their first clean sheet of the season at the weekend with a commanding display against Newcastle.
Edging out Ciaran Clark on form, Derby County’s central defender has been a model of consistency this season, even if the rest of his squad may have struggled at times.
The Derby skipper has anchored his side’s defence and has made more clearances than any other Championship player in the Ireland squad this season. With just three clean-sheets from 11 games, Derby have been let down by others in defence, but Keogh remains their highest rated defender.
Ward is almost certain to start in both of Ireland’s qualifying games and the Dubliner is just behind his international team-mate in terms of form Irish defenders in the Premier League.
Ward is another player who has featured in every minute of every league game for his club this season and he’s helped them to two clean sheets and impressive 1-1 draws with both Tottenham and Liverpool, as well as an opening day 3-2 victory over Chelsea in which he scored a stunning goal.
Brady is another player who will be expected to feature in the crunch game against Wales, despite being suspended for Moldova and like his club-mate Stephen Ward, he’s enjoyed an impressive start to the season with Burnley.
As with Ireland, the versatile winger has been deployed in front of Ward for much of the season and he’s thrived there. With two goals and one assist from the opening few weeks of the campaign, he has helped his side to climb into the top half.
Brady’s delivery from dead-balls was well below its usual high standard last time out for Ireland but his stunning free-kick against Leeds in the League Cup suggests he’s rediscovering his aim.
A controversial inclusion given that Sunderland are struggling in the Championship, sitting in the relegation zone with just one win from ten games, but the stats show that it’s not down to lack of effort from McGeady.
Sunderland have scored just 10 league goals but McGeady has bagged two of them and claimed an assist for three others – 50% of their goals. He’s also created 16 chances for the Black Cats, so while there’s plenty of finger-pointing to be done at the Stadium of Light, McGeady is one of those who escapes blame.
O’Kane is arguably in the form of his life at Leeds United and he’s played no small role in lifting the sleeping giants to second place in the Championship.
The 27-year-old has been the lynchpin of the Leeds midfield and is enjoying a new lease of life under manager Thomas Christiansen giving them real stability and defensive protection, having been frozen out of the team towards the end of last season by then manager Gary Monk.
O’Kane’s importance to the Leeds team was highlighted by his absence in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat against Cardiff when he was ruled out through sickness and Leeds were totally overrun through the centre.
Almost certainly the form player in Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad, Hourihane has enjoyed a blistering start to the season with Aston Villa. The midfielder is the joint-second highest goalscorer in the Championship and has already equalled Villa’s top scoring midfielder record from last season and has helped his side move to within two points of the play-off places.
Manager Steve Bruce was full of praise for the midfielder at the weekend after his classy free-kick gave Villa a 2-1 win against Nottingham Forest. "He’s starting to show all the ability that we knew he had, that’s why we brought him here," the Villa boss said.
He’s the player that most Irish supporters want to see called into the full Irish squad, but despite his impressive start to life at Preston North End, Irish boss Martin O’Neill has hinted that he may not make the cut for Moldova and Wales.
Maguire has made a seamless transition from life in the Airtricity League to the Championship and Cork City’s alarming drop in form since he left shows just how important a player he was for them.
The striker has banged in two goals and assisted two more in his first eight games for Preston and immediately won over supporters with his all-action aggressive style, earning him the nickname the Irish Diego Costa.
Yet it may not be enough for O’Neill who said of Maguire: "It’s a hard ask, putting pressure on a young lad to come in and score a goal, who feels he has to score a goal in a game - it’s a big step up."
Former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy appears to be weaving his magic again, taking a squad put together for a pittance to within touching distance of the promotion places and under McCarthy frontman David McGoldrick is enjoying a renaissance at Ipswich.
With six goals already this year, McGoldrick has surpassed his disappointing total of five for the club last season and he’s also bagged three assists. He’s also not be frightened to track back and the Ipswich boss has praised the striker for his combative approach and willingness to get stuck in.
"The best players do all the dirty stuff and the forward stuff as well. The best players work hard," McCarthy said of the striker.