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Szmodics makes debut as Kelleher named in goal



Sammie Szmodics will make his international debut as the Republic of Ireland take on Belgium at the Aviva Stadium, kick-off 5pm.

The Blackburn Rovers frontman has been in fine form this season, netting 27 goals in all competitions, and has been rewarded with a first cap for his country.

John O’Shea has named his first team as interim manager and he has opted to select Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher to start between the sticks ahead of regular stopper Gavin Bazunu.

Three natural centre-halves have been selected – Nathan Collins, Dara O’Shea and Andrew Omobamidele – suggesting that O’Shea will start the game with three at the back, however, he hinted on Friday that Irish defenders have a good history of playing in midfield.

Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady will line up on either side of the defence, while Josh Cullen and Will Smallbone will operate in the midfield department.

Debutant Szmodics will play in an attack-minded formation of three alongside Chiedozie Ogbene and Evan Ferguson.

Republic of Ireland: Caoimhin Kelleher; Nathan Collins, Dara O’Shea, Andrew Omobamidele, Seamus Coleman, Robbie Brady; Josh Cullen, Will Smallbone; Sammie Szmodics, Chiedozie Ogbene, Evan Ferguson

Belgium: Matz Sels; Wout Faes, Koni De Winter, Timothy Castagne, Olivier Deman; Arthur Vermeeren, Youri Tielemans, Aster Vranckx; Johan Bakayoko, Leandro Trossard, Lois Openda

Referee: Rohit Saggi (NOR)

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