The Republic of Ireland has selected their 23 man squad to travel to the European Championships in June.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has remained faithful to the same players that helped the country to qualify for the tournament, their first appearance at any major event in 10 years.
One player that has earned himself a surprise call up to the first team is Sunderland midfielder James McClean. McClean has been the subject of death threats since his inclusion because of his previous time spent in the Northern Ireland youth set up.
Coming on as a second-half substitute in February’s friendly against Czech Republic, cemented the talented prospect’s choice to play for the Republic of Ireland over his native Northern Ireland, much to the approval of the Irish public.
Captain and record goal scorer Robbie Keane, now of LA Galaxy, is expected to spearhead the attack alongside fellow forward, Kevin Doyle.
Keane has amassed 53 goals in 115 appearances for his country, and his commitment to the cause cannot be in question after showing up for every game in the last couple of years.
Doyle has had a season of misfortune with club and country, succumbing to numerous injuries and loss of form. He will be hoping to hit the goal trail in Ukraine and light up the championships.
The midfield will be one of experience with veteran wingers, Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady hoping to supply the ammunition for the strikers. In the centre of the pitch, Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews will fall back and protect the defense, allowing the wide men to complement the attack.
Trying his best to keep the opposition goalless will be seasoned campaigner Shay Given. Given has played 121 times for his country and Euro 2012 may well be his last tournament.
Faced with the task of marking some of the world’s finest forwards will be a defense comprising of Richard Dunne, John O’Shea, Sean St Ledger and Stephen Ward.
The Irish team faces an uphill battle to qualify from a group which contains the reigning European and World champions Spain, along with Italy and Croatia.
If Ireland is to cause an upset at the tournament, the first game against Croatia is vital. They must win that and score enough goals to increase the pressure on the other teams.
Should Ireland somehow qualify, they will likely set up a meeting with either France or England.
France was the team that knocked the Republic of Ireland out of the World Cup 2010 playoff game with a dubious goal.
A clash against England would be a blockbuster affair back in the United Kingdom, capturing the attention of an entire nation.
The Irish fans are under no illusion of the task they face but will be sure to add a touch of color and vibrancy wherever they go.
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