Martin O’Neill has named a provisional 40-man squad for the Republic of Ireland’s two March friendlies to allow players to stake a claim for Euro 2016.
Ireland will host Switzerland and Slovakia in Dublin on March 25 and March 29, the Republic’s first games since they qualified for this summer’s European Championships in France by beating Bosnia-Herzegovina in a decisive November play-off.
Included for the first time are Wolves defender Matt Doherty, Aberdeen midfielder Jonathan Hayes and Peterborough’s Chris Forrester - all of whom have previously represented Ireland at under-age level.
The squad, which also includes uncapped Brentford midfielder Alan Judge and America-based strikers Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle, will be shortened ahead of assembling on March 20.
“The countdown to Euro 2016 starts now for us and we look forward to welcoming both Switzerland and Slovakia to the Aviva Stadium for what will be two very important games for us,” manager O’Neill said at a press conference to announce the squad.
“Both myself and my staff have been incredibly busy since qualification last November scouting and monitoring as many players as possible.
“I know that I will have a very tough decision to name a final squad for Euro 2016 and that is why I want to give players a chance to impress.
“For these two games, I would like to encourage Ireland supporters to come out in numbers to support the team as passionately as they did during our qualifying campaign.
“When we come together it creates a fantastic atmosphere at the Aviva Stadium and the players really feed off that.”