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Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill says Friday’s game with the Netherlands will be the last chance for most of his squad to stake their Euro 2016 claims.
That is even though O’Neill will not announce his squad until after Tuesday’s friendly against Belarus.
“I will have told quite a number of players that they will be going to France this weekend,” O’Neill said.
Midfielders Harry Arter, Eunan O’Kane and Darron Gibson are among those who may be handed starts against the Dutch.
With James McCarthy missing because of his ongoing thigh injury, his Everton club-mate Gibson is a contender for a central midfield role with O’Neill likely to parade a mix of regulars and fringe players.
O’Neill set to name McGeady in squad
Gibson is among several Republic squad players who have played little first-team football this season, with another of his club-mates Aiden McGeady in the same category.
McGeady spent the second half of the season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday but that didn’t go to plan either and the former Celtic winger is with the Republic squad this week instead of preparing for the Championship play-off final against Hull City.
O’Neill is still tipped to include McGeady, 30, in his Euro 2016 squad and the Glasgow-born winger may be given some game time on Friday.
“I reiterate, he does have that ability to go past players and create something for you,” said O’Neill of McGeady.
The Republic’s goalkeeping situation may not be any clearer after Friday’s game with Keiren Westwood and David Forde set for play-offs duty over the weekend with Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall.
Given in line for Republic’s long-service record
Shay Given sat out training on Thursday so West Ham’s Darren Randolph looks set to have another chance to cement his status as the Republic’s current number one, with Dundalk’s Gary Rogers in contention to provide cover on the bench after training with the squad on Thursday.
Given, 40, will become the Republic’s longest serving player, beating John Giles’ record of 19 years and 202 days, if he wins his 134th cap in the series of upcoming games.
John O’Shea will start despite being out of favour for Sunday’s closing Premier League games but his fellow central defender Ciaran Clark will not be risked because of a minor achilles injury.
The Dutch were surprise non-qualifiers for Euro 2016 but since then they have earned away wins over Wales and England.
Manager Danny Blind won’t be able to call upon his injured son Daley while his squad includes uncapped Watford winger Steven Berghuis.