Belgium made light work of minnows Luxembourg as Domenico Tedesco's side rounded off their Euro 2024 preparations with a 3-0 victory.

Romelu Lukaku was at the double at Stade Roi Baudouin, with Leandro Trossard also getting in on the act for the Red Devils.

Belgium dominated from the off, though Luxembourg held out until Lukaku converted from the penalty spot in the 42nd minute.

Lukaku made it 2-0 shortly after the restart, with the 31-year-old on hand to finish after fine work from Jeremy Doku.

Trossard added further gloss nine minutes from time, and Belgium will now turn their attention to Euro 2024.

They face Slovakia in their opening group match on June 17, with fixtures against Romania and Ukraine to follow.

Data Debrief: Total control

It really could have been much worse for Luxembourg, given Belgium accumulated 4.81 expected goals from 27 attempts.

In return, Luxembourg mustered just 0.01 xG (essentially, having just one per cent of scoring all match), managing only one shot. 

Belgium boss Domenico Tedesco has opted to stick with a 25-man squad for Euro 2024, despite having the option to include an additional player.

Tedesco initially named a 25-player party, notably excluding Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, while inviting Arne Engels and Mandela Keita to train with the team ahead of their final warm-up matches against Montenegro and Luxembourg.

The head coach was expected to maximise his squad to the allowed capacity of 26 players before the deadline by including one of the young midfielders, but he has chosen to remain with his provisional selection.

Nevertheless, Belgium have plenty of quality and experience throughout the squad, including the likes of skipper Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Leandro Trossard and Youri Tielemans, as well as most-capped player Jan Vertonghen. 

"We have decided to go to the European Championship with 25 [players]," Tedesco told reports during a press conference.

"It's all about the group spirit. I didn't want to disappoint a young player. I have always been clear that we would go to Germany with 25."

The Red Devils boss also provided an injury update on Vertonghen, who is currently nursing a groin problem, but is expected to recover in time for the tournament.

"It won't be long before Vertonghen is back," Tedesco added. "Of course, it is not easy for him to be on the sidelines, but he is an important player in our selection."

Belgium complete their preparations against Luxembourg on Saturday. They begin their Euro 2024 campaign against Slovakia on June 17, while also facing Ukraine and Romania in Group E.

Kevin De Bruyne marked his 100th appearance for Belgium with a goal in Wednesday's 2-0 friendly victory over Montenegro at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.

The Manchester City midfielder was handed a start in the hosts' penultimate warm-up game ahead of Euro 2024 and found the net from distance just before half-time.

Matija Sarkic's weak backpass landed at the feet of De Bruyne and he made no mistake guiding it into the empty net from more than 30 yards out.

Milos Brnovic's second yellow card late on dented Montenegro's hopes of snatching a draw, before Leandro Trossard sealed the victory for Belgium from the penalty spot in added time after fellow substitute Jeremy Doku was felled in the box.

Data Debrief: Profligate Belgium extend unbeaten streak

Belgium were expected to ease to victory, even without record goalscorer Romelu Lukaku included in their squad, but it did not quite turn out that way.

Domenico Tedesco's men registered an expected goals (xG) return of 2.81, compared to 0.62 for their opponents, although their dominance did not truly show in the scoreline.

The Red Devils will know they will need to be more ruthless come their Euro 2024 opener against Slovakia in 12 days' time, yet ultimately they are now unbeaten in 14 matches.

Kevin De Bruyne admitted he is "open to everything" when asked about the possibility of leaving Manchester City for the Saudi Pro League.

The decorated midfielder is heading towards the final year of his contract with City, who he joined from Bundesliga side Wolfsburg in 2015.

Since then, the Citizens have won six Premier League titles, five EFL Cups, two FA Cups, the Champions League and Club World Cup, with De Bruyne playing a starring role in his side's success.

However, the 32-year-old had to make do with a more limited role during the 2023-24 season, in which City landed a record-breaking fourth successive league crown, playing just 26 times after missing five months of action through injury. 

And he may consider departing the Etihad Stadium, after revealing he could "earn an incredible amount of money" by spending two years in Saudi Arabia.

"I still have one year of my contract, so I have to think about what can happen," De Bruyne told Belgian broadcasters VTM.

"For Michele [his wife], an exotic adventure is OK. These are also conversations that we are increasingly having as a family.

"My eldest [child] is now eight years old and knows nothing but England. He also asks how long I will play at City. Once the time comes, we will have to deal with it in a certain way.

"At my age, you have to be open to everything. You talk about unbelievable amounts in what may be the end of my career. Sometimes, you have to think about that."

The Belgium captain is gearing up for Euro 2024, where Domenico Tedesco's side will play Ukraine, Romania and Slovakia in Group E.

The Red Devils will complete their preparations with friendlies against Montenergro and Luxembourg this week.

Thibaut Courtois will not be receiving a late call-up for Euro 2024, but it is down to the Belgian FA to address any off-field issues with the goalkeeper, technical director Franck Vercauteren has revealed.

The Real Madrid stopper was omitted from the Red Devils' 25-man squad for the forthcoming European Championship, despite returning from an anterior cruciate ligament injury and helping Los Blancos to a 15th Champions League title.

Courtois, who kept a clean sheet as Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at Wembley, became embroiled in a public spat with Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco last June, walking out on the squad when he was not named captain in the wake of Eden Hazard's retirement.

Koen Casteels, Thomas Kaminski and Matz Sels were named as Tedesco's three goalkeepers for the tournament in Germany, where the Red Devils will play in Group E alongside Romania, Ukraine and Slovakia.

And technical director Vercauteren confirmed there would be no U-turn on Courtois' omission, but admitted he may still have a future with the national team.

"Unfortunately, we’ll play the European Championship without him," he said. "So, now we no longer have to focus on that. It is the job of the federation to smooth out the wrinkles. That is absolutely a must.

"We never doubted his qualities or that he would not be fit. So, we must stop the matter now. Signals have been given that we must respect.

"At some point, you have to invest to solve it. That is certainly the intention. It's partly my job to make that happen. We know what we have to do."

Courtois' father Thierry, who was at Wembley to watch his son claim a second Champions League winner's medal, added: "Hopefully, the problem can be sorted out."

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been omitted from Belgium's 25-man squad for Euro 2024.

Courtois suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury shortly before the start of the season in August, only returning to action against Cadiz earlier this month.

He is seen as the favourite to start between the sticks when Los Blancos face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final on Saturday, despite Andriy Lunin impressing as Carlo Ancelotti's side overcame Manchester City and Bayern Munch in the last two rounds.

Courtois became embroiled in a public spat with Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco last June, walking out on the squad when he was not named captain in the wake of Eden Hazard's retirement.

That incident meant he was always unlikely to feature at this year's tournament in Germany, and his absence has now been confirmed with Koen Casteels, Thomas Kaminski and Matz Sels the three shot-stoppers named in Tedesco's 25-man party.

There is, however, a recall for Axel Witsel, who announced his international retirement last May but has now reversed that decision.

Belgium begin their Group E campaign against Slovakia in Frankfurt on June 17, before taking on Romania five days later and Ukraine on June 26. 

Full 25-man squad: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thomas Kaminski (Luton Town), Matz Sels (Nottingham Forest), Timothy Castagne (Fulham), Maxim De Cuyper (Club Brugge), Zeno Debast (Anderlecht), Wout Faes (Leicester City), Thomas Meunier (Trabzonspor), Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht), Arthur Theate (Stade Rennais), Axel Witsel (Atletico Madrid), Yannick Carrasco (Al Shabab), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Orel Mangala (Lyon), Amadou Onana (Everton), Youri Tielemans (Aston Villa), Arthur Vermeeren (Atletico Madrid), Aster Vranckx (Wolfsburg), Johan Bakayoko (PSV), Charles De Ketelaere (Atalanta), Jeremy Doku (Manchester City), Romelu Lukaku (Roma), Dodi Lukebakio (Sevilla), Lois Openda (RB Leipzig), Leandro Trossard (Arsenal).

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been ruled out of Euro 2024 by Domenico Tedesco, despite making a return to the Real Madrid squad.

The 31-year-old has missed the entire season, and after a setback in March, needed another knee operation.

Carlo Ancelotti said he hoped to have the goalkeeper back for their LaLiga match against Cadiz at the weekend, but has been able to name him on the bench for their Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Despite Courtois making a return to action before the squads have to be named, Tedesco was clear that he would not be chosen.

Speaking to German media on Tuesday, he said: “On this topic, everything has already been said. I don't want a tit-for-tat situation.

"We are focusing on players who are in good shape."

Gareth Southgate says he is facing a “complicated” Euro 2024 selection choice given England’s potential fitness and availability issues heading into the summer.

This is the first time since the 2018 World Cup that the 57-cap former defender is having to pick a 23-man squad for a major tournament after it was expanded to 26 following the coronavirus pandemic.

But Southgate could name even more than that at the provisional squad announcement on May 21 as the England boss will have injury concerns to deal with and the late arrival of key players.

The final squad is not due to be submitted to UEFA until June 8, but some may not even have joined up with the team by that point due to cup finals, denting numbers for the warm-up friendlies against Bosnia and Iceland.

Asked how many extra headaches returning to a 23-man squad will throw up given the issues he is juggling, Southgate said: “Yeah, it’s going to be complicated, because firstly the injury situations that we have.

“Some will be back playing at the weekend, some will be back playing in a couple of weeks, some will be really close to the end of the season.

“Then we’re going to have the European finals, the FA Cup final and the two friendlies that we’ve got ourselves.

“It’s inevitable we’re going to be naming a longer squad, which is what we did before the Euros here even though we were dealing with 26 then.

“We really don’t know (how many will be in the provisional squad) because there are so many questions on the injuries at the moment.

“But we’ve gained valuable information about so many players this this week.”

Absentee-hit England suffered their first defeat in 15 months in Saturday’s late 1-0 loss Brazil at Wembley, where Jude Bellingham scored an even later goal to salvage a 2-2 draw against Belgium three days later.

Southgate had to experiment far more than he expected during the friendly double-header due an unprecedented injury list that left him without a third of the 40-odd players on his long list against Brazil.

Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker and Sam Johnstone all withdrew from the squad over the course of the camp, with Jordan Henderson unable to feature in either match.

“I had a plan on Saturday night for Tuesday that got blown apart in 12 hours, so to have a plan for something in two and a half months’ time at the moment is faintly ridiculous.” Southgate said.

“We know some of the core parts of that, we know who’s been able to play at that level, who our very best players are.

“And the rest, we’ve got a lot clearer picture of what people are capable of from the two games that we’ve played.

“We’re just going to see how people are when they come back into form, whether they can do that fitness-wise with their clubs.”

Anthony Gordon, Ezri Konsa and Kobbie Mainoo all made their debuts over recent days, with Ivan Toney registering his first goal – from the penalty spot – against Belgium on his first international start.

The quartet boosted their chances of making the plane to Germany, with 18-year-old Mainoo’s stock arguably growing the highest.

The Manchester United talent staked his claim for a midfield spot with out-of-sorts Kalvin Phillips omitted, Trent Alexander-Arnold injured and Henderson unavailable.

Mainoo won his first cap off the bench against Brazil and, just four months after making his first Premier League start, was named player of the match for his display on his full England debut on Tuesday.

“He gives us a different profile of midfield player to anything else we’ve got,” Southgate said.

“He’s adapted and adjusted brilliantly. You can’t believe his age, really, that he’s just taking it all in his stride as he has.”

Asked if he was confident Mainoo could shut out the noise after such an impressive full debut, he said: “I think, firstly, he seems very mature, very calm. He knows he’s making his way.

“We’re absolutely delighted with what he’s done, first and foremost, and then there’s a lot of the season still to be played with his club.”

Seamus Coleman is confident former team-mate John O’Shea has made a case for himself in the race to succeed Stephen Kenny as Republic of Ireland manager.

The 35-year-old Everton defender returned to the international stage after a year’s absence when interim boss O’Shea selected him in his squad for the friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland and then started him as captain in both games.

Coleman made his Ireland debut alongside O’Shea against Wales in February 2011 and the pair played together for their country until the former Manchester United man retired from international football in June 2018.

Asked about the vacancy and the 42-year-old’s chances of filling it after Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat by the Swiss, Coleman said: “I don’t want to sound like someone who’s played a couple of games for the manager and I am doing all I can to get him in, but being completely honest, the way he has conducted himself, how impressive he has been…

“My time will be up soon, but going forward for the future – so it’s not on a personal level – I think the way he’s carried himself, the work that he, [coaches] Paddy [McCarthy], Glenn [Whelan] have done behind the scenes has been really impressive, what he has done for his country, that respect he has from people instantly…

“I think he will be in the running. I have no idea, but why not be in the running for it? And I’d be delighted for him – but that’s above my pay grade.”

The search for Kenny’s replacement – he was relieved of his duties in November after a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign – has extended to four months, although the Football Association of Ireland’s director of football Marc Canham has indicated that an announcement, which has been delayed by “existing contractual obligations”, will come in early April.

With leading candidate Lee Carsley, the European Championship-winning England Under-21s boss, having ruled himself out of the running, speculation has been rife as to the identity of the successful candidate.

Greece manager Gus Poyet, whose side lost their Euro 2024 play-off final clash with Georgia on penalties on Tuesday evening, is out of contract at the weekend and is the current favourite with the bookmakers, although O’Shea’s temporary tenure has been well received.

Asked about the interregnum and its impact on the players, Coleman said: “As captain, I care about the players and all the rest of that, but that’s not my job to figure out who the manager’s going to be.

“I am a player, I have always been a player, I don’t stand out of my zone. I have never been one to speak about people above me or anything like that, it’s not my job.

“Whoever it is will give their all for it. I think there’s a case for John, the way he’s carried himself, what he has done for the country. He has coached for a period of time now, the lads all really enjoyed it.

“Whoever that will be, we will find out soon and as always, we will have massive pride in representing our country and give our all for whoever will be in charge.”

Ivan Toney scored on his first England start in the friendly draw with Belgium and is now aiming to make up for lost time by securing a place at Euro 2024.

The Brentford striker won and scored a penalty either side of a Youri Tielemans brace for the visitors, who looked on course for a Wembley win before Jude Bellingham’s last-gasp effort secured a 2-2 draw.

It was Toney’s full England debut and just his second cap, coming exactly a year after his first.

For the majority of that year Toney was sidelined through suspension, having been banned for eight months after breaching Football Association betting rules.

He returned to action for Brentford in January and has scored four goals for the Bees since, while England boss Gareth Southgate kept a watching brief.

“It was always going to be hard to watch knowing I should have been there,” Toney said of England games he missed while banned.

“But that’s done and dusted now. I can’t change it. There’s no point dwelling on something I can’t change because it’ll just hurt me even more.

“But hopefully I can make the Euros squad and put things right. I try to be confident, but let’s see what happens.”

There was a long delay between Toney winning the spot-kick for a foul by Jan Vertonghen and then coolly converting from 12 yards.

For Toney, though, the outcome of the penalty was never in doubt.

“It felt very good,” he told BeIN Sports.

“This morning I spoke to my friends and I said I feel a penalty today and when I ran in behind, I felt the contact and there was no doubt that it was a penalty.

“So it is just patience, really – wait for the keeper to get on the line and do what I do best.

“I practise them all the time, every day and just pretend it is a training pitch and put in the back of the net and I’ve done that.”

While Toney impressed and got off the mark for England, there were other standout displays.

Manchester United teenager Kobbie Mainoo’s midfield performance was particularly eye-catching, while Jarrod Bowen enjoyed arguably his best night in an England shirt too.

The 27-year-old West Ham forward looked sharp on his seventh cap but saw his first England goal chalked off when VAR ruled him offside as he headed home in the first half.

Bowen is also hopeful of squeezing into Southgate’s ranks in Germany.

“There is no question I want it more than ever,” he told BBC Radio 5Live. “The main thing now is to go back to West Ham, hit the ground running there, keep doing what I’ve been doing all season and hope I get the opportunity.

“There is a lot of football to be played before that squad is named. I have been in a good place this season and the main thing was to continue to do what I’ve been doing.”

Gareth Southgate praised Jude Bellingham’s never-say-die attitude after saving England from defeat against Belgium at the end of an international break that provides plenty of food for thought ahead of the Euros.

Among the favourites for glory this summer, the side third in FIFA’s world rankings stepped up preparations with a pair of high-level friendlies against the nations directly behind them in those standings.

Brazil are fifth and struck late on Saturday to inflict a first defeat on England in 15 months, which fourth-placed Belgium looked set to compound at rainy Wembley three days later.

Youri Tielemans opened the scoring after a Jordan Pickford error, with a Lewis Dunk mistake resulting in the Aston Villa midfielder scoring again after Ivan Toney had converted a penalty on his first senior start.

Fellow full debutants Ezri Konsa and, in particular, 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo also impressed in a friendly that ended 2-2 after Bellingham struck at the end of second half stoppage time.

“I liked it because I know the rubbish we would have got if we lost two games on the bounce,” the Real Madrid midfielder told Channel 4.

“These are two games that are going to stand us in good stead going into the Euros. I know people will be negative but you have to take these games for what they are.

“You’ve got to keep perspective. We had a lot of lads making debuts (this week) and a lot of lads I’ve never played with. We created a lot of chances. I should have scored (previously). I was happy I could make it up to the team.”

England boss Southgate told the post-match press conference: “Jude, of course, is the headline.

“That competitive spirit, that desire not to lose, desire to win in the end, was decisive in getting the late goal.

“But I thought the whole team showed that throughout the game and recovered from setbacks with a pretty inexperienced team, really, against a team that have got some very, very good players. Very pleased with a lot of what I saw tonight.”

Bellingham pulled the Euro 2024 hopefuls through at the end of a challenging international meet-up marred by injuries.

John Stones joined England’s eye-watering absentee list when limping off with an adductor issue within 10 minutes on Tuesday, when Mainoo’s man-of-the-match performance was among a number of impressive displays.

“The great thing is definitely some players have emerged positively from the opportunities they’ve had,” Southgate said reflecting on the Brazil and Belgium friendlies.

“We’ve perhaps got more depth in one respect, but the injuries are a concern. We’ve got so many players missing at the moment, and we’ve still got the real heat of the season to come, with the intensity of the games, what’s resting on the games.

“We’re not going to know what we’re left with until right until the end but we’ll just have to make the best decisions that we possibly can.”

Southgate praised Toney, Jarrod Bowen and James Maddison for their attacking impact against Belgium, while Anthony Gordon has also earned plaudits during the week.

Southgate has plenty to mull over ahead of announcing his provisional squad on May 21, which has to be whittled down to a 23-man group by June 8.

“In terms of knowing the 23, there’s so many unknowns at the moment in terms of who might be available,” Southgate said.

“So, yes, these performances were very important for players to be able to see whether or not they could play against high level opposition.

“But equally the way they play between now and the end of the season with their club, in big matches is going to have a high tariff as well so we will track all of that.”

Jude Bellingham struck at the death to salvage England a deserved draw against Belgium on a night of impressive auditions in the final match before Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2024 selection.

Three days on from the late loss to Brazil, the absentee-hit Euro 2020 runners-up faced another high-level test as the side third in FIFA’s world rankings hosted the team in fourth.

England were heading for another Wembley defeat after Youri Tielemans punished first-half errors either side of Ivan Toney’s penalty, only for Bellingham to secure a 2-2 draw in stoppage time.

Toney did well on his first start, as did fellow full debutants Ezri Konsa and, in particular, 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo in the final friendly before Southgate names an expanded Euros squad on May 21.

Interim Republic of Ireland boss John O’Shea backed Evan Ferguson to end his goal drought after seeing the Brighton teenager miss a penalty during Saturday’s 0-0 friendly draw with Belgium.

The 19-year-old striker had a first-half spot-kick saved by Matz Sels at the Aviva Stadium to extend his run without a goal for either club or country to 21 games dating back to the end of November.

Asked about Ferguson’s barren spell, O’Shea said: “It’s one of those things. He’ll have another spell five, six years down the line of a couple of months without a goal. It happens with top strikers.

“As soon as he gets on the goal trail again, he’ll be back on a run again.”

Ferguson’s big moment came 24 minutes into the game when fellow teenager Arthur Vermeeren was adjudged to have handled.

However, Ferguson slipped as he approached the ball and Sels blocked his mishit attempt with his legs.

O’Shea said: “It was just unfortunate. Ev had a little slip just before he knocked it, so it would have put him off. But look, a youngster stepping up like that, it shows the courage he has and he didn’t let it affect him.

“He knocked into the centre-backs as soon as he could again, got his confidence going and it’s one of those things. He was unlucky with one – he got himself in a great position second half as well.”

O’Shea, taking charge of the first of two friendlies with Switzerland to come in Dublin on Tuesday evening, blended the old with the new as he recalled former team-mates Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady and handed a debut to Blackburn striker Sammie Szmodics.

Unsurprisingly, he reverted largely to type, asking his team firstly to be difficult to beat after three and a half years of promise, but not results, under Stephen Kenny before he lost his job in November.

As Ireland had been throughout much of his 118-cap international career, O’Shea’s team were solid and threatened most through Ferguson’s physicality and Chiedozie Ogbene’s pace, although without finding a way past keeper Sels.

O’Shea said: “Look, it’s a frustrating one because you appreciate Belgium had a decent bit of possession, but we kind of felt beforehand that we didn’t mind that in a sense because we knew the damage we could create against them on the break.

“If you take those chances when they arrive in the game, that even opens up Belgium a little bit more for us and we can exploit that even more, so it’s a frustrating one in that sense.

“But look, you’re playing Belgium in Dublin, you’d take a clean sheet, but a little bit disappointed in the end too.”

Opposite number Domenico Tedesco was less than impressed by what he had seen.

Asked for his verdict, the Belgium boss said: “A more or less boring game, not a good one. I think from both sides low rhythm, many, many difficulties to build up the game, slow passes, no sharpness. This is my conclusion.

“At the end, it looked a little bit like a summer friendly game.”

Harry Kane has been ruled out of England’s glamour friendly against Brazil and manager Gareth Southgate says he is “extremely doubtful” to face Belgium.

Already without a number of injured regulars for March’s Wembley double-header, the Euro 2020 runners-up saw Bukayo Saka withdraw through injury on Thursday.

England vice-captain Jordan Henderson and Cole Palmer remain with the camp but they too are sidelined for Saturday’s sold-out friendly against the Selecao, along with Kane.

The skipper sustained an ankle injury sustained playing for Bayern Munich last weekend and also faces the possibility of missing Tuesday’s game against Belgium – the final match before Southgate names his Euro 2024 squad.

“Tomorrow no Harry Kane, no Jordan Henderson, no Cole Palmer,” England boss Southgate said.

“I would say Cole and Hendo have a better chance of Belgium than Harry. He’d be extremely doubtful for that.”

Interim boss John O’Shea will send the Republic of Ireland into friendly battle with Belgium on Saturday after being placed in temporary charge of the team he represented with such distinction.

The former Ireland defender has stepped into the shoes vacated by Stephen Kenny in November for the clash with FIFA’s fourth-ranked team and Switzerland’s visit to the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the clash with the Belgians.

Who’s the boss?

Kenny’s departure in the wake of a desperately disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign left the Football Association of Ireland with a void to fill and, four months on, it remains unfilled. The FAI has promised an announcement in early April but, in the meantime, the 118-times-capped O’Shea has been handed an audition which could stand him in good stead for the future, if not this time around.

Headache number one

Southampton’s Gavin Bazunu established himself as Kenny’s first-choice goalkeeper after being thrown in at the deep end for a World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg in March 2021 at the age of 19. Of the 30 games Ireland have played since, Bazunu has started 20 and Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher 10, with 16 of the former’s appearances coming in 20 competitive fixtures. However, 25-year-old Kelleher, a two-time Carabao Cup winner, is currently playing his part in Liverpool’s Premier League title challenge as the injured Alisson Becker’s deputy to illustrate his quality and leave O’Shea with a decision to make.

Seamus it ever was

Seamus Coleman has not played for his country since March last year, but after working his way back from a knee injury he feared might end his career, is back in the squad and raring to go. At 35, the Everton full-back knows his days in the green shirt may be drawing to a close, but a man who has captained his country under successive managers remains committed to serving in whatever way he can.

Patience is a virtue

Sammie Szmodics will keep his fingers crossed as he edges ever close to a senior international debut. The 28-year-old Blackburn frontman has twice had to pull out of previous squads, but has returned in top form with 27 club goals to his name to date this season to eloquently stake his claim once again.

False dawn

Kenny ultimately left his post with his much re-vamped Ireland team having won just six of the 29 competitive games they played under his charge. However, there was a point when it looked as though his plans were starting to come to fruition, no more so than after a 2-2 friendly draw with Belgium in March 2022. Admittedly the Belgians, then ranked one in the world, were without some of their star men for the Football Association of Ireland centenary fixture, but the hosts gave as good as they got as goals from Chiedozie Ogbene and substitute Alan Browne cancelled out Michy Batshuayi’s opener and Hans Vanaken’s strike.

Lukaku who’s missing

Belgium boss Domenico Tedesco headed for Dublin without some of his biggest names, with Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Chelsea’s on-loan Roma striker Romelu Lukaku sidelined by injury. Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois is a long-term absentee as he recovers from a knee problem, while Thorgan Hazard and Yannick Carrasco are also missing.

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