Ireland travel to Bratislava needing only two wins to reach the championships after a qualifying campaign that started under Mick McCarthy. Stephen Kenny’s Ireland are due to play their semi-final in Bratislava on October 8. If they beat Slovakia, Kenny’s side will face either Northern Ireland or Bosnia-Herzegovina in a playoff final on November 12 for a place in the finals next summer.
Earlier this month, Kenny introduced some new faces when naming his first squad for Nations League matches with Bulgaria and Finland. Jack Byrne’s recent form has been rewarded with a recall to the Republic of Ireland squad for the first time under Kenny, along with Blackburn Rovers defender Derrick Williams. Meanwhile, striker Troy Parrott, who recently sustained an ankle injury, is out if the squad.
Kenny, who is awaiting his first win as Republic boss after drawing with Bulgaria and losing to Finland, admits that the upcoming match will be a “tough game” especially when they are the ones away. “I think Slovakia were unfortunate not to qualify themselves. They’re a good team and from our point of view, we have not won an away game against a significant nation in quite a few years,” he said.
The play-off game is due to go ahead despite the Slovakian government considering a state of emergency after the spike of coronavirus cases in the country. Earlier, Slovakia was removed from the Irish Government’s Green List, banning Irish citizens to travel in there. However, an exception is being made for a 45-strong travelling party from the FAI, including staff and players.
Earlier reports also claim that Ireland are due to play behind closed doors with no fans or members of the Irish media will be allowed to attend the game. Last year, Ireland were knocked from first place to third in Euro 2020 qualifying group D as Denmark ended the group with 16 points and sealed their qualification next to group winners Switzerland. Ireland was left on the third spot.
The winners of the playoffs will complete the teams that will compete in the postponed Euro 2020 next year. All matches are reportedly going to be played behind closed doors. The 26-man Scotland squad are as follows: Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (West Ham United), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), MarkTravers (Bournemouth).
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), DarraghLenihan (Blackburn Rovers), Shane Duffy (Celtic, on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion), John Egan (Sheffield United), Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers).
Midfielders: Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), James McCarthy (Crystal Palace), Harry Arter (Nottingham Forest), Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Jayson Molumby (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers), Robbie Brady (Burnley).
Forwards: Callum Robinson (West Bromwich Albion), CallumO’Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City), Aaron Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), David McGoldrick(Sheffield United), Adam Idah (Norwich City), Shane Long (Southampton).