Scotland/Rep of Ireland Combined Best XI
Thanks to Gordon McQueen’s big mouth and a Scottish football writers’ rather exaggerated claim that only 4 or 5 Irish players would get near the Scotland squad, we’ve decided to put together a Scots/Irish XI.
We’ve also gone 4-4-2 as both countries are rather traditional. Going 4-3-3 would be a bit, erm, Spanish, wouldn’t it? So without further ado:
Goalkeeper: David Marshall
The goalkeeping position was actually a rather difficult one considering the healthy competition. The one we’ve gone for is Cardiff no.1 David Marshall. The bluebirds may have been relegated from the Premier League last season but the former Celtic keeper was incredible, with Arsene Wenger reportedly sniffing around in the summer transfer window. Agile and commanding, Marshall is worthy of his place.
Right Back: Seamus Coleman
If there was one position in this side absolutely locked down, it’s Seamus Coleman at right back. The Everton defender is one of the best fullbacks in European football at present with his marauding runs down the wing a feature of Roberto Martinez’s exciting side. We’d be tempted to make him captain too except for the Donegal lad being semi-mute.
Left Back: Andy Robertson
This one definitely goes to the Scots seeing as the only competition provided from the Irish side is a rather flappable Stephen Ward. That’s no slight on Robertson, though, who has excelled at Hull after his move south from Dundee. The left back was superb in Jackie McNamara’s talented young side. A transfer to the Premier League was expected but his rise has been somewhat meteoric.
Centre Half: Marc Wilson
There was decent competition for the second centre-back position from Ipswich’s Christoph Berra but we’ve gone for Stoke man Marc Wilson as O’Shea’s partner. The former Portsmouth defender has been an ever-present first team member at the Britannia for a couple of season’s now; his Premier League experience giving him the nod.
Right Wing: Aiden McGeady
Twinkle toes McGeady was always a shoe-in for this side with the former Celtic winger shining since moving to Everton from Spartak Moscow. With a deft first touch and tricks galore, the Glasgow-born wizard has started adding goals to his game: a deserved inclusion.
Left Wing: Ikechi Anya
We had considered Stevie Naismith for this particular position but going 4-4-2, we decided upon an out-and-out winger to provide a bit of balance and they certainly don’t come much wingery than Watford’s Ikechi Anya. A super engine, with great crossing and dribbling, the former Granada man has been a revelation.
Centre Midfield: James McCarthy
In terms of central midfielders, they don’t get much better than James McCarthy, do they? The former Hamilton prodigy has been magnificent since moving south. First with Wigan, now with Everton, the Glasgow-born player’s decision to play for Ireland over Scotland has always been a sore spot for some.
Centre Midfield: Scott Brown
Alongside McCarthy in a two-man partnership, Brown is our choice to provide that tough-tackling, box-to-box energy to complement the Ireland man’s dynamism. The Celtic captain is one of the best players in the SPL and deserving of his spot in this side.
Striker: Steven Fletcher
We’re big fans of the Steven Fletcher here at HQ. The Sunderland striker, when fit and on-form, is one of the best forwards in the league. Blessed with a wiry frame, the former Wolves forward holds the ball up well, can finish on either foot and his heading ability is arguably the best in England: a perfect foil for Keane.