Ireland will go into this game without three huge midfield players in its squad. Stephen Ireland is an enigma wrapped in a conundrum, no one really knows the full story. Stephen Reid is fit and playing high level football but still on the outside of the Irish squad looking in. There seems to be a breakdown in communication there between the Irish manager and Stephen Reid.
Then there is Sunderland's Andy Reid.
Listening to a soccer show on the radio on Saturday, Mark Lawrenson made a great point, he asked, why is Reid not even in the squad? What happens if we are chasing the game in Dublin or France, and we need some creative spark off the bench, surely it would make sense to have a player of Reid's level of skill and creativity ready to go in case we need him? Truly, is there anyone on the Irish bench who can create chances and take set pieces at Reid's level? The answer is absolutely not.
It's not just Mark Lawrenson, there are many pundits out there taking notice of Reid's superb recent form in the Premiership, a league many people call the best soccer league in the world.
This from the Guardian report on Sunderland's controversial 0-2 loss to Tottenham on Saturday;
Sunderland's football, by contrast, often sparkled, with Andy Reid the most imaginative player on the field.
This from ESPN;
The theme that less is more has been epitomised by a slimmed down Andy Reid, now producing arguably the best form of his career.
This from an ESPN soccernet 'team of the week' article;
Sunderland will feel hard by after losing a game they dominated 2-0 at White Hart Lane on Saturday, but former Spurs midfielder Andy Reid's lower lip may be protruding a little further than most. Darren Bent won and then missed a penalty, of course, but Reid was superb in providing the creativity and came extremely close to scoring one of the goals of his career when he chested the ball down and struck a dipping drive from 35 yards onto the post.
Perhaps the most quietly damning critique of the current Irish manager’s squad was in the Irish independent. When you read the below, bear in mind that Reid has recently pulled the strings in midfield for a team battling the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham. Top class opposition, top class football.
From the Independent;
As it happened, a significant number of Trapattoni's squad weren't wanted by their club bosses at the weekend. Kevin Kilbane, Paul McShane, Stephen Kelly, Eddie Nolan, Darren O'Dea, Darron Gibson, Liam Lawrence and Andy Keogh were all unused substitutes for their respective clubs.
That’s nine players in their respective teams who didn’t even see the pitch, whilst Reid was earning plaudits for his performance against Spurs.
Reid's behaviour in the face of his ridiculous ommission from the Irish squad, both on and also off the field, has been absolutely commendable. It is only a shame that he is faced with a stubborn old man who has run out of excuses for keeping him out of the squad and is now gambling Ireland's entry to the World Cup on a selfish and stupid whim.