The Republic of Ireland will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in the Nations League to three games when they travel to Hampden Park on Saturday to face Scotland (7.45).
Ireland beat Scotland 3-0 in the home tie at the Aviva Stadium in June with Alan Browne, Troy Parrott and Michael Obafemi on the scoresheet in one of the best performances during Stephen Kenny’s reign. In their last outing, Ireland drew 1-1 with Ukraine with Nathan Collins scoring a great solo goal.
The Scots will be flying ahead of the game after a thoroughly deserved 3-0 victory over Ukraine last night. It looked like it was going to be a frustrating night for Steve Clarke’s men with several missed chances before John McGinn scored the opening goal with 20 minutes remaining. Substitute Lyndon Dykes scored 2 goals in the final ten minutes to secure a vital win. Another win on Saturday for the home side will all but seal top spot in League B Group 1.
Ireland manager Kenny made a couple of surprise inclusions in his squad with both Callum O’Dowda and Scott Hogan returning to the fold. However, the return of Robbie Brady is also welcomed due to his form with new club Preston North End. Andrew Omobamidele was a late withdrawal and as a result Aberdeen player Liam Scales was called in as a replacement. Bristol City goalkeeper Max O’Leary also earns a call-up.
It is highly unlikely that Stephen Kenny will change from his preferred 3-5-2 formation, but the personnel has yet to be confirmed. John Egan and Nathan Collins are effectively certainties to be two of the three centre-backs. Shane Duffy isn’t playing regularly at Fulham as of yet so Seamus Coleman may well get the nod as the third centre-back on the right side.
Matt Doherty will be hoping to start at right-back, but the left side is up in the air. Enda Stevens has had a tough time with form and injury and isn’t in the squad, so it appears to be a straight shootout between James McLean and possibly Brady to line out at left-wing back. Jason Knight and Josh Cullen will be expected to start in midfield while Chiedozie Ogbene’s decent form with Rotherham should ensure a start.
Ireland have played in Hampden Park on three occasions with the first being a World Cup qualifier in 1961 which ended in a 4-1 loss for the boys in green. In 1987, under the guidance of Jack Charlton, Ireland won 0-1 thanks to a goal from Mark Lawrenson. In 2003, Ireland were once again victorious with a 0-2 win.
Kevin Kilbane and Clinton Morrison scored two goals in the opening 15 minutes provided the victory in the first game under the management of Brian Kerr. In the most recent away meeting in 2014, Ireland lost 1-0 to Scotland in a Euro qualifier but that game was played in Celtic’s Parkhead Stadium in Glasgow. Shaun Maloney scored the winner.
In order to top the group, Ireland will need to win their final two games while hoping that Ukraine draw two games as their head-to-head record with Scotland will be in their favour.
Goalkeepers: Gavin Bazunu, Mark Travers, Max O’Leary
Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Matt Doherty, John Egan, Nathan Collins, Dara O’Shea, Shane Duffy, Liam Scales, James McLean, Robbie Brady
Midfielders: Josh Cullen, Jeff Hendrick, Jason Knight, Jayson Molumby, Alan Browne, Conor Hourihane
Forwards: Chiedozie Ogbene, Michael Obafemi, Troy Parrott, Scott Hogan, Callum O’Dowda, Callum Robinson