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Five talking points ahead of Republic of Ireland’s friendly against New Zealand

The Republic of Ireland’s friendly clash with New Zealand on Tuesday night will signal the end of one international career and perhaps two as a difficult calendar year draws to a close.

James McClean is set to make his 103rd and final appearance for his country in a fixture which could be manager Stephen Kenny’s last in charge, with his current contract due to expire on the final whistle.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the game at the Aviva Stadium.

Wrexham’s McClean has represented his country with distinction since making his senior debut as a substitute in a 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic in February 2012. A veteran of Ireland’s Euro 2012 and 2016 finals campaigns, the 34-year-old has played as a winger, a frontman and a wing-back under Giovanni Trapattoni, Martin O’Neill, Mick McCarthy and Kenny, and famously scored winning goals in Austria and Wales in World Cup qualifiers as the Republic made it to the play-offs for the 2018 finals. McClean was a late addition to the squad for Saturday evening’s 1-0 Euro 2024 defeat in the Netherlands but did not feature in Amsterdam and is sure to be given a rousing send-off in Dublin.

The Football Association of Ireland will consider a review of the campaign which ended at the Johan Cruyff Arena at its scheduled board meeting next week, and the outcome is unlikely to be positive for out-of-contract manager Stephen Kenny. The 52-year-old is convinced the framework is in place for a brighter future after a major refit which has seen him hand out 26 competitive debuts in his three-and-a-half years at the helm, but whether or not he remains in place to build upon that work is a mater of some contention.

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