The Republic of Ireland’s painful Euro 2024 campaign reaches its climax on Saturday evening in Amsterdam when they conclude their Group B games with a tough test against the Netherlands.
The game may be a deadlock for Stephen Kenny’s side, who have only home and away wins against minnows Gibraltar, but the Dutch can score second to secure second place behind France, who have already qualified for the finals qualified victory.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the game.
The last waltz?
Stephen Kenny has been divided during his time in charge of the Republic.
The former Dundalk coach has drastically reshaped the squad to bring in younger players while trying to instill a more progressive style of football.
However, he has only managed six wins in his 28 competitive games so far – five of them home and away against Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Armenia and Gibraltar – and only one notable one, a 3-0 Nations League win over Scotland in June last year.
Kenny’s current contract expires after the friendly against New Zealand on Tuesday and few commentators expect it to be extended.
If Kenny has ushered in the new during his time at the helm, there could be a touch of nostalgia in his final competitive game.
Wrexham’s James McClean announced last month that he would retire from international football at the end of the season and was initially only included in the squad for the New Zealand game.
However, injuries led Kenny to give the 34-year-old a seat on the plane to Amsterdam, where he played his 103rd – and penultimate – senior international match.
Seagull or parrot?
Much of the hope for a brighter future lies in the hands of 19-year-old Brighton striker Evan Ferguson, whose goal in the 4-0 win over Gibraltar last month was his third in eight senior appearances for his country.
However, the teenager suffered a back injury in the build-up to the game and with Luton’s Chiedozie Ogbene out with an ankle problem, Tottenham’s Troy Parrott could be in contention.
Now 21, Parrott, who is on loan with Excelsior in the Netherlands, has scored three Eredivisie goals in eight games so far this season and was used as a substitute in June’s games against Greece and Gibraltar following his return to the squad .
The Republic’s hopes of making it to Germany next summer were all but dashed by a 2-1 home defeat to the Netherlands in September, when Cody Gakpo’s spot-kick and second-half substitute Wout Weghorst’s early penalty were defeated Adam Idah destroyed.
But those with longer memories can take inspiration from a famous World Cup qualifying victory over the Netherlands in September 2001, when Jason McAteer secured a 1-0 win at Lansdowne Road against a team that included Edwin van der Sar, Jaap Stam, Marc Overmars and Ruud were joined by van Nistelrooy and Patrick Kluivert as well as substitutes Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Pierre van Hooijdonk despite the dismissal of Gary Kelly.
Koeman’s back hurts
Dutch coach Ronald Koeman has a wealth of talent at his disposal, but his defensive options have been severely hampered by injuries.
Feyenoord’s Lutsharel Geetruida is the latest man to join an injury list that already includes Jeremie Frimpong, Matthijs de Ligt, Nathan Ake, Micky van de Ven and Sven Botman, and while Jordan Teze has been signed from PSV Eindhoven to replace Frimpong, If the trainer has done this, he does not need any further support.