Having name 10 of the 11 that will start for Ireland tonight, Giovanni Trapattoni has got only one major decision to make: who partners Robbie Keane up front? With Kevin Doyle suspended and Leon Best injured, Trapattoni can choose either Simon Cox, who scored against Armenia, or Jonathan Walters, who has been in fine form for Stoke City over the past year. Both have different qualities that could work for Ireland; Cox is a fantastic finisher, and possesses a powerful shot (see his goal against Tottenham last year, for WBA), while Walters is a workhouse, leading some to dub him the "Irish Carlos Tevez" (presumably without the off field issues).
Who Trapattoni decides to pick will come down to how he wants his team to play. If he wants to play defensively, and on the break, then Walters is the obvious choice. He plays that way for Stoke, and off the ball he is more solid and more versatile than Cox, able to easily drop off to the wide areas if Ireland want to play with a 5 man midfield. Cox, meanwhile, isn’t as good in that type of game; he doesn’t have the pace or the strength that Walters has, and would be much more suited to playing a more attacking style. For those reasons, Walters, despite having only 3 caps, is RTE’s favourite to start, and is also my favourite to start.
So that’ll mean Simon Cox will start, right?
Ireland: (4-4-2) Given; McShane, St Ledger, Dunne, Ward; Duff, Whelan, Andrews, McGeady; Keane, Walters