With the luxury of a fully-fit squad to select from, Giovanni Trapattoni has revealed his starting lineup for Ireland’s Euro 2012 opener against Croatia, which his charges are 12/5 to win.
The Republic of Ireland met Hungary on Monday night in their final preparation for the European championships, which get underway this week.
Whilst a 0-0 draw wasn’t the ideal result for the Irish though, the fact that the entire squad emerged from the friendly unscathed was a massive plus point.
Particularly pleasing was the fact that Shay Given, an injury worry of late, proved his fitness by completing the first half of the match in solid fashion.
Given’s knee troubles looked well behind him as he made a series of impressive saves, foiling Hungarian wideman Balazs Dzsudzsak no less than three times in quick succession.
John O’Shea’s display will further hearten Ireland’s Italian coach, as he too entered the game short on match fitness after persistent ankle troubles of late.
The Sunderland defender suffered no negative reaction however, and managed to perform well, an encouraging sign almost a week ahead of Ireland’s tournament opener.
The fact that he didn’t complete the full 90 minutes will be of little concern to Trapattoni also, who stated prior to the match that he would name the same starting lineup for this match, and the Republic’s opening Euro 2012 contest, barring fresh injury concerns.
Now 14 games unbeaten, the ability to continue to name a very settled side is a huge bonus for Trapattoni, who has guided Ireland to a first major tournament in ten years.
With five consecutive clean sheets on their travels, 16/1 looks a massive price about the Irish conceding less than anyone else in the tournament, though punters may be deterred by the difficulty of their group.
Spain and Italy are the countries accompanying Ireland and Croatia in Group C, which Ireland are 7/2 to qualify from.
Expected Ireland starting lineup
1. Shay Given
2. Sean St. Ledger
3. Stephen Ward
4. John O’Shea
5. Richard Dunne
6. Glenn Whelan
7. Aiden McGeady
8. Keith Andrews
9. Kevin Doyle
10. Robbie Keane (c)
11. Damien Duff
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.