Kenny Cunningham explains why Jeff Hendrick should be chosen ahead of Glenn Whelan

Derby County stadium entrance

Kenny Cunningham believes Derby County's Jeff Hendrick should be chosen ahead of Stoke City's Glenn Whelan for the Republic of Ireland.

Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Kenny Cunningham told NewsTalk radio station that Derby County's Jeff Hendrick should start over Stoke City's Glenn Whelan when Martin O'Neill's men take on Bosnia this Friday.

The ex-Birmingham City star explained that Ireland needed to be on the front foot and that Hendrick's improvement over the course of the European Championship qualifying campaign means he should get the nod over the ever-present Whelan.

"At the start of this campaign, I would have always leaned towards James McCarthy and Glenn Whelan," admitted Cunningham to NewsTalk. "For me, I'd like to see us get on the front foot. I'd like to see us be a bit bolder in our approach and a bit more adventurous.

"I looked at Jeff Hendrick during this qualifying campaign and he's got better, he's got stronger and he's looking more comfortable at this level. For this particular game, even away from home, when the priority for me is to get on the front foot and to score and win this game, if we can, for me Jeff Hendrick probably gets the nod over Glenn Whelan in that central midfield position."  

Who should O'Neill go with - Hendrick or Whelan? 

Hendrick has been in fantastic form for Derby this season and has the ability to be a match-winner on his day. However, Whelan is an experienced Premier League player and remains ever-present in an established Stoke City side that is looking to qualify for Europe this season. 

The decision will be a tough one for O'Neill, who will need all the big game experience he can get into his team for the crucial clash against Bosnia, but Cunningham's reasoning behind picking Hendrick is more than warranted.

The Derby midfielder could well provide the spark that wins Ireland the game and will ensure that the tempo is high, with Ireland dominating as much possession as Bosnia allow them to. 

He can play the deep-lying midfield role, with the potential to join in with the attack, so could provide the link between James McCarthy and Wes Hoolahan perfectly. 

Nevertheless, if Martin O'Neill does decide to go with Hendrick over Whelan and the result doesn't go their way, it could be looked at as a naive decision to opt for a Championship midfielder over an experienced Premier League performer.  

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