Martin O’Neill sat, shocked and saddened, at the top table following his side’s dismal display against Denmark, and admitted that he needed time to think about his international future.

Over the past four months, O’Neill has, no doubt, pondered his position and had to make some major decisions in relation to his Ireland future by turning down a chance to move back to the Premier League with Stoke.

Ahead of the upcoming 23 March friendly with Turkey, O’Neill has more decisions to make as he gets set to name his squad tomorrow for the week-long camp and fixture in Antalya.

Should O’Neill wish to continue to include a ball-playing midfielder in his side, he should really look no further than Alan Judge.

Of course, some of these calls have been taken out of the manager’s hands following the international retirement of some senior players earlier this year.

Nottingham Forest striker Daryl Murphy called time on his Ireland career, while Wes Hoolahan also stepped away from international duty.

Murphy enjoyed his most productive campaign in an Ireland jersey in the failed quest to make it to this year’s World Cup, bagging three goals, including a late equaliser in Serbia, while the 34-year-old also put in a tremendous shift during the 1-0 away win in Cardiff.

Wes Hoolahan in Ireland action

As Murphy departs, Scott Hogan looks like the man who Martin O’Neill will turn to, to challenge for the striker’s position with Shane Long.

Hogan has yet to play a competitive game for Ireland but the Aston Villa striker has enjoyed a bit of club form recently and will be one to watch in Turkey, no doubt.

Sean Maguire’s timely return from injury is another that O’Neill cannot ignore as the former Cork City striker has scored three times in the past five days.

Hoolahan is a year older than Murphy and his retirement was also expected, yet the Norwich man’s influence should prove more difficult to replace in the squad.

Of course, Hoolahan did not play as much as most Irish football fans and critics would have liked, but will always have that great goal against Sweden at Euro 2016, while also supplying that sublime final ball for Robbie Brady’s winner against Italy in Lille.

O’Neill certainly appreciated Hoolahan more than his predecessor Giovanni Trapattoni, however, the current manager was also quite selective with his deployment, while many believed he should have always been the first name on the sheet.

Should O’Neill wish to continue to include a ball-playing midfielder in his side, he should really look no further than Alan Judge.

Alan Judge is a footballing midfielder

The Brentford midfielder is certainly cut from the same cloth as the former Shelbourne man, and while Judge is still getting back to full match fitness and game sharpness following a horrendous leg break, the week-long camp in Turkey should allow him the platform to convince the manager of his worth.

John O’Shea and Glenn Whelan have not made any public announcements in relation to their international future, however, both players are perhaps in the old school mode of not retiring from international football, while also not expecting inclusion.

Talk of Jonathan Walters calling it a day in the green could prove premature as the Burnley man, while currently recovering from injury, might still have a role in the upcoming campaign, even if only as an impact player.

The squad for Turkey is also likely to include several younger players that O’Neill will want to get to know better ahead of the return to competitive action, and West Ham’s Declan Rice is surely top of that particular list considering his Premier League performances thus far this season.

Declan Rice has impressed for the Hammers

Liam Kelly is another to bring in, considering that he is a regular at Reading and another, like the aforementioned Judge, who is very adept at keeping possession and picking a pass.

Preston’s Alan Browne should also make the plane to Turkey, the midfielder was on target for his club last night and O’Neill appears to like his game and mentality.

Far from a youngster at 27 years of age, former Shamrock Rovers left full, Enda Stevens, may also be in line for a surprise call up.

The Dubliner has played his way back to a very high level following a mixed start to his career in England at Aston Villa.

Stevens has been playing week-in, week-out for promotion-chasing Sheffield United in a left wing-back position and certainly offers options on that flank, where Ireland are already lacking, especially with Robbie Brady remaining out injured.

It has been almost four months since the Denmark debacle, yet the result, tactics and performance still feel painfully fresh in the memory.

The pain of the Denmark defeat remains fresh

And while a meaningless friendly away at the Turkish golf coast resort offers little in terms of seeing where the team are at, a good performance will help to bring this side back to the mentality that existed post Cardiff, going into the double header with Denmark.

The upcoming trip to a land that could not tame Tony Cascarino should have more of an effect on squad spirit for the year ahead rather than any immediate fix for the humiliating exit from Russia 2018 contention.

The team, despite the friendly nature of the game, will be anxious to put in a shift to show that they can again play as a spirited unit, while the coach also needs to banish the poor judgement and strange substitutions from that dire Denmark performance.

Seamus Coleman’s return should certainly boost morale and bring an element of stability to the side.

But new leaders need to emerge from the pack to take this side through to the post-summer Nations League and on to the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign next year.

That particular tournament remains a long way off in the distance yet the thoughts of not being involved in a UEFA event co-hosted in the Irish capital does not bear thinking about.