Turkey v Republic of Ireland preview: Eight uncapped players could get the call
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 22/03/18 5:25pm
Up to eight players could win their first Republic of Ireland caps when Martin O'Neill's side travel to Turkey on Friday.
O'Neill, who has stayed on for a third tournament despite a 5-1 aggregate defeat against Denmark in the play-offs for the World Cup, has selected a squad with a blend of youth and experience for Ireland's only game until May.
Aaron McCarey, Kieran O'Hara, Matt Doherty, Declan Rice, Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams, Enda Stevens and Scott Hogan have all been handed the chance to compete for their first caps as O'Neill prepares to lead Republic of Ireland into the qualifying campaign for Euro 2020 - having reached the last-16 of the previous tournament.
Aside from back-to-back wins over Kosovo, Turkey have just won two of their last eight games and finished fourth in their World Cup qualifying group. They have faced the Irish 13 times before, but won only twice.
And ahead of an intimidating trip to Antalya, O'Neill wants his players to avoid placing too much emphasis on their first chance to impress.
He said: "The thing that is really important here is that why while they might be under a bit of pressure to try to perform well here, hopefully it wouldn't be the end of the world if somebody didn't do well.
"I think club form in the next couple of months will have some sort of impact on them. There's quite a number of lads here who know they haven't played much football, so in this exuberant effort to try to impress, I would want them to settle down in the game.
"We played a couple of lads back in the USA and tried the system, the three at the back with two wing-backs, and the result, when you are well beaten by Mexico in the game, personally I wouldn't have been too concerned about it.
"Some players think, 'Well, would that be the end of my chance?'. Hopefully here they've got this other chance."
Seamus Coleman may make his first appearance in just under a year, after recovering from the long-term injury he suffered from a foul by Neil Taylor during Ireland's 0-0 draw with Wales last March.
Robbie Brady is missing from the squad with a serious knee injury of his own, and Rob Elliot, Keiren Westwood, John Egan, Greg Cunningham, Harry Arter and Liam Kelly all ruled themselves out earlier in the week.
- The two teams' last meeting came back in a friendly in May 2014, with Turkey running out 2-1 winners. In fact, Turkey are unbeaten in their last four versus Ireland, although three have been draws.
- Martin O'Neill's side have lost just once in their last eight away games in all competitions (W3 D4), with that sole defeat coming in a friendly versus Mexico in June 2017.
- Turkey are winless in four games (D1 L3), conceding two or more goals in each match (10 in total, 2.5 per game).
- Sean Maguire, who has just one senior cap to his name, has had a hand in 12 goals in just 17 Championship games for Preston this season (nine goals, three assists). Indeed, Maguire has bagged seven goals in his last seven league appearances.
- In form Cenk Tosun became the just the third Turkish player to score in three consecutive Premier League games last weekend after Muzzy Izzet and Tuncay Sanli.