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The verdict on Liam Scales as Celtic stalwart helps Republic of Ireland defeat Hungary

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Celtic defender Liam Scales earned his fourth cap for the Republic of Ireland last night as they saw off Hungary 2-1 at the Aviva Stadium.

He was drafted into interim boss John O’Shea’s squad alongside Bosun Lawal, Mikey Johnston and now-departed loanee Adam Idah as uncertainty continues to reign over who will take over at the Boys in Green for their forthcoming Nations League campaign.

Nevertheless, Scales has earned every bit of his success, becoming a stalwart at Celtic in 2023/24 and part of Brendan Rodgers’ double-winning side, registering one goal and three assists in 45 appearances across all competitions [Transfermarkt].

Establishing himself alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers this term, the thought of regular game time at Parkhead and call-ups to represent his country would’ve once only been an aspiration for the ex-UCD man, but not now, owing to his remarkable progress under Brendan Rodgers.

Tasked with facing EURO 2024-bound opposition in Dublin, Scales was thrown in at the deep end by O’Shea in the first of his outfit’s double-header against Hungary and Portugal, so let’s see how he got on.

Liam Scales enjoys eventful introduction against Hungary

Coming off the bench to replace familiar face Shane Duffy with the score tied at a goal apiece, Scales and his rearguard, including Jake O’Brien, Callum O’Dowda, Dara O’Shea and Seamus Coleman, had to withstand a fair deal of pressure from the visitors before Troy Parrott’s eventual winner in stoppage time.

In a strange match, Ireland ventured forward sporadically; nevertheless, they were clinical when it mattered after soaking up sustained advances forward from Hungary.

Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Despite one or two nervy moments, Scales helped to solidify O’Shea’s backline, making six clearances, two headed clearances, seven defensive actions, five recoveries and winning one duel [Fotmob].

On a night where several of the home side’s players ceded possession regularly, the Celtic man kept his head on the ball, completing 43 of his 48 attempted passes, two of which were into the final third.

Admittedly, given the system Ireland adopted, many of these were merely to recycle possession, though he didn’t make any notable errors in our out of control, putting in a solid night’s work on assessment

Liam Scales will want to nail down a starting slot with Ireland

Ireland have a solid base of central defenders to choose from at full fitness, with John Egan, Andrew Omobamidele, Nathan Collins and Darragh Lenihan among the bodies not involved last night.

Frustratingly, cementing himself as a first-choice will depend on who is appointed as the new manager at the Aviva Stadium following Stephen Kenny’s exit last year.

Scales offered balance and didn’t look out of place against some credible opponents yesterday. Conversely, his real acid test may come against Portugal next Tuesday if he is selected to feature against Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and company.

Either way, he is the type of character who will relish such a task. Pitting himself against the best can only bode well as Celtic prepare to enter the new Champions League format, making his prospective involvement a worthwhile exercise.

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