Ireland vs Sweden: Players Irish Should Build Team Around After Defeat

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 29:  Ashley Cole of England battles with Seamus Coleman of the Republic of Ireland during the International Friendly match between England and the Republic of Ireland at Wembley Stadium on May 29, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Ireland looked fantastic for the first 45 minutes of their 2-1 defeat to Sweden on Friday night. They were vibrant, passionate and incisive and received just reward through Robbie Keane's opening goal.

But hope faded just as the side's standard of play did, and Sweden eventually took hold of the game and secured a crucial victory that all but ends Ireland's chances of qualifying for the Brazil World Cup in 2014.

Questions will be asked of manager Giovanni Trapattoni, but in amongst the obvious disappointment, there were glimpses of a bright future on display at the Aviva stadium.

Here are three players the Irish should look to build their team around going forward:

Seamus Coleman

The Everton man has really started to establish himself as one of the best right-backs around. 

Having finally nailed down a permanent place in the Toffees first XI in his preferred role at full-back, Coleman is beginning to do the same at international level.

His man-of-the-match performance against England earlier this year made a lot of people realize the strides he has taken as a player, and since then he has remained Ireland’s most consistent performer.

With concerns regarding his defensive frailties having finally been alleviated, Ireland must make the most of a player who seems to be getting better and better as the games tick by.

Coleman is a bundle of energy capable of making a real impact on the international scene. He is tireless in his vertical forays on the flank and a menace on the overlap.

Having finally struck up the right blend between attack and defense, Coleman could emerge as Ireland’s most important player over the course of the next few qualifying campaigns.

James McCarthy

The former Wigan man has joined Coleman at Everton, and he is another young player who will be a key figure for the Irish for many years to come.

Everton’s new £13 million signing is perfectly suited to the demands of international football. He is a technically gifted midfielder capable of taking the ball in tight situations and recycling possession for his team.

McCarthy's energy and ball-winning skills are  a crucial part of his game and something that would perhaps be better utilized as part of a three-man midfield; the current Ireland boss Giovanni Trapatonni is particularly stubborn in utilizing his preferred 4-4-2 system.

Giving McCarthy a role as a withdrawn playmaker would see Ireland keep the ball significantly better than they currently do. This would be a massive benefit when trying to preserve leads in crucial games.

Ireland's inability to maintain possession for extended periods against the Swedish is what ultimately cost them victory. 

Ciaran Clark

The Aston Villa central defender has blossomed under the stewardship of Paul Lambert. 

Clark once looked timid in the challenge and overwhelmed by the big occasion, but he has emerged as a key figure at Villa Park. He finished last season in impressive fashion and started this one with an excellent performance away at Arsenal.

But Trapattoni decided to go for the experience of Richard Dunne against Sweden, even though he has not played much football over the past year due to fitness issues. Whilst Dunne has been a great servant to Ireland and has invaluable experience, it is time for Clark to be given a chance to cement a place at the heart of the Irish back-four.

At 24, Clark is most definitely the future and playing in big qualifying games is a must for his development as an international player.

With Dunne looking cumbersome and somewhat off the pace against Sweden, it would be a big surprise if the Ireland manager doesn’t draft in the Villa man for the team’s next game with Austria.


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