John O’Shea is facing a real scrap to secure his place in the Republic of Ireland starting line-up at Euro 2016.
That’s the view of former Republic boss Brian Kerr, who suspects the Sunderland centre-back may have to make do with a place on the bench in France when they kick-off against Sweden a week Monday.
Richard Keogh and Ciaran Clark - linked with a summer switch to the Stadium of Light - have established themselves at the heart of Martin O’Neill’s defence.
O’Shea has been involved in the warm-up matches but the 110-capped defender is not guaranteed a start, despite his wealth of experience.
“I think John has a bit of work to convince Martin, even though he’s been the captain,” Kerr told the Irish Independent.
“I think Shane Duffy has come in with a late run and is in the picture.
“But I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if John was on the bench and the back four remained as it was, with Stephen Ward and Seamus Coleman as the full-backs and Robbie Brady playing a bit further up the pitch.
“Because Richard Keogh and Ciaran Clark did so well against Bosnia-Herzegovina, I think John O’Shea was suspended for one and injured for the other, but I thought that unit did very well in front of Darren Randolph.
“I think Richard Keogh’s experience of having played in those massive games will keep him to the forefront and the most likely starter.
“But whether it’s John as his partner or Ciaran Clark, I wouldn’t know which way he’ll go.”
The 35-year-old struggled to break into the Sunderland side that successfully battled relegation, with manager Sam Allardyce favouring Lamine Kone and Younes Kaboul.
O’Shea is set to be third - or even fourth choice - at Sunderland next season, with Allardyce targeting defensive reinforcements.