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Republic of Ireland | Talking points from Turkey

From a corner Topal volleys in to put Turkey 1-0 up after 52 minutes #TURIRL — RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) March 23, 2018 Faces old and new It was wonderful to see Seamus Coleman back in a green jersey. The Irish captain started at right wing back, and was replaced by Wolves’ Matt Doherty in the second half. Alan Judge also made a welcome return as a second half substitute, and both will be delighted to return to the international fold after their respective leg breaks. Martin O’Neill gave plenty of fringe players an opportunity, and started with a 3-5-2 formation. Colin Doyle started between the posts, winning his second cap after his international debut way back in 2007. Kevin Long, Shane Duffy, and Declan Rice operated as the three central defenders, and were flanked by Coleman and James McClean. Conor Hourihane, Jeff Hendrick, and Alan Browne got the nod in midfield, and Scott Hogan partnered Sean Maguire up front for the visitors. Daryl Horgan, Matt Doherty, David Meyler, Alan Judge, and Shane Long were all introduced from the bench, but the visitors could not produce an equalizer. Rice seizes his chance Declan Rice has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at West Ham, and the 19 year old was deservedly named as tonight’s man of the match in Antalya. The versatile teenager started as one of a back three, before moving into midfield in the second half, where he showcased his composure and ability on the ball. Rice was hugely impressive throughout, and looks as if he could be a key player for the boys in green moving forward. Martin O'Neill was full of praise for the West Ham player after the final whistle; "Results are obviously important for confidence but when you see young Rice playing in the manner that he did..." Skipper Seamus Coleman was in agreement after Rice's eye-catching performance. "We’re disappointed to have lost but I thought Declan was brilliant," the Donegal native said. "He wasn’t just brilliant today, he’s been brilliant all week in training. "He’s a great lad, desperate to do well and a few of us could have taken a leaf out of his book today." New system, same old style? Despite switching personnel and formation, there were familiar issues on display in Turkey. The visitors lacked creativity for large parts of the friendly, and were often wasteful in possession. Many fans have been calling out for a change in approach following the defeat to Denmark, but there were few signs of more a attacking mindset last night. Too many players were ponderous in possession, particularly in contrast with the hosts, who played the better football on the night. In O'Neill's defence, many of  these players were inexperienced, and playing together for the first time. Change takes time, and the boys in green should not be judged on last night's showing. O'Neill has further opportunities to tinker with players and positions in the upcoming challenges against France (May 28th) and the USA (June 2nd), and it will be interesting to see whether the former Celtic boss persists with last night's 3-5-2 formation.
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