James McClean will make his first start under new manager Stephen Kenny in tonight's Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia in Bratislava.
The Stoke City winger is likely to line out on the left side of a front three, alongside David McGoldrick and Callum Robinson as the manager has opted for experience for this must-win encounter.
Blades attacker McGoldrick also starts for the first time in the Kenny regime having come off the bench in the defeat to Finland last month as he was still recovering from an injury.
Adam Idah led the line for Kenny’s first two games in charge, but the Norwich youngster and Galway native Aaron Connolly have not even been named among the substitutes.
Kenny did not explain why that was the case but Josh Cullen and Kevin Long were late additions to the squad and the FAI announced a second backroom team member had positive for Covid-19.
The #RTEsoccer panel react to the news that Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah have been late omissions from the Ireland squad to play Slovakia, and confirmation of another positive Covid-19 test in the Ireland backroom staff. https://t.co/IE5a5e2sXF #SVKIRL #Euro2020 pic.twitter.com/NokokGoZ0D— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) October 8, 2020
The Ireland midfield will see James McCarthy sit in front of the defence with Jeff Hendrick and Conor Hourihane making up the trio in the middle of the park. Shamrock Rovers play-maker Jack Byrne takes his place on the bench.
Shane Duffy will captain the side in Seamus Coleman’s absence and will be joined in the centre of defence by John Egan. Enda Stevens will take up the left-back position, while Matt Doherty will start on the right side of the four.
Darren Randolph starts in goal, as expected, while Josh Cullen and Kevin Long are the two unlucky players to miss out on the matchday squad.
Slovakia: Dominik Greif; Peter Pekarik, Denis Vavro, Martin Valjent, Robert Mazan; Juraj Kucka, Patrik Hrosovsky, Marek Hamsik (capt); Albert Rusnak, Jaroslav Mihalik, Ondrej Duda.
Republic of Ireland: Darren Randolph; Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy (capt), John Egan, Enda Stevens; James McCarthy, Conor Hourihane, Jeff Hendrick; Callum Robbinson, James McClean, David McGoldrick.