Ireland's Future Starting XI? Giovanni Trapattoni Take Note.
A faltering qualification campaign, an aging squad (not to mention manager), and that's not even mentioning a country in financial turmoil. Is there anything to be happy about in the world of Irish football? It would seem so.
Ireland take on Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in the Nations Cup next month. Essentially a glorified string of friendlies, as it is the perfect opportunity to have a look at some young, new players.
And with a new set of faces, why not a new style? I'm opting for a 4-2-3-1 formation favored by the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool and the German national team.
Goalkeeper: Keiren Westwood (Coventry City)
Let's face it, playing or not, Shay Given is number one until he decides to retire, but it can't hurt to take a look at someone else.
Westwood has made the odd appearance, but a string of games would really show us what he's made of.
His form for Coventry over the last few seasons warrants that at least.
Left Back: Stephen Ward (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Were he not injured, I would pick Greg Cunningham here.
Ward, though, has surprisingly never played a game despite left back being a great concern for Ireland. And the fact he plays Premiership football week in, week out helps his cause considerably.
Ultimately, I see this role as Cunningham's to lose, but in the interim, Ward will suffice and provide a suitable back up.
Right Back: Kevin Foley (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Much like Ward, Foley is a stalwart of Mick McCarthy's team.
To date, he only has three international caps, a figure that is slightly confusing when you take into account the 16 caps Paul McShane currently has.
Can also play on the right side of midfield and would be a useful squad player.
Centre Back: Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa)
Clark is starting to establish himself in Gerard Houllier's team, and has a knack for scoring goals against big teams like Arsenal and Chelsea.
Playing alongside Richard Dunne at club level could do wonders for his international career.
Give him his debut before England try and snatch him back.
Centre Back: Marc Wilson (Stoke City)
Wilson can play midfield or centre back.
Rated highly by Stoke and now a regular in their team having displaced Trapattoni favorite Glenn Whelan.
Left Midfield: Keith Treacy (Preston North End)
Of all positions, the left side of midfield is one where Ireland are surprisingly strong.
The presence of Damien Duff, Stephen Hunt and Aiden McGeady make this a heavily contested position. With McGeady being 24, it is likely that he will hold this position for the foreseeable future.
As a backup, Treacy's six goals in 14 games this season mean he's worth a look in.
Right Midfield: Séamus Coleman (Everton)
An absolute travesty he hasn't worn the Irish shirt yet. No more needs to be said.
Centre Midfield: David Meyler (Sunderland)
A horrible injury meant Meyler missed out on a call up before.
He's back in the Sunderland team and looking healthy. A few games under his belt should go some way to erasing the Paul Green experiment from our memories.
Centre Midfield: Keith Fahey (Birmingham City)
Fahey has made a few appearances, but only one in the centre of the park where he can be best used.
Comfortable on the ball and a good passer, he would excel beside a ball winner like Meyler.
Second Striker: James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic)
Alongside Coleman, McCarthy is easily our best prospect.
Back playing after a horrible injury, he could do great damage to teams in an advanced role behind a striker.
Striker: Anthony Stokes (Glasgow Celtic)
We've seen what Shane Long has to offer lately, so beyond that, Stokes is our best option.
Playing and scoring regularly for Celtic now, if he can keep his personal problems under wraps, he will be an asset to the squad.
Also, when was the last time you saw an Irish player score a goal like this?
The future is looking good for Irish football with guys like these waiting in the wings to complement the established core of Doyle, Dunne, McGeady and Keane.
The sooner they start seeing some action, the better.
Now, if Trapattoni would only pick them!