Kenny Cunningham urges key role for Glenn Whelan against Austria

Ireland midfielder is one of the options to start in the engine room

Glenn Whelan, Ireland

Glenn Whelan ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Former Ireland defender Kenny Cunningham feels Glenn Whelan could have an important role to play in Sunday's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Austria.

The Boys in Green will be looking to take another step towards Russia and Cunningham considered the midfield options at manager Martin O'Neill's disposal on Off The Ball

"If you're asking me to pick Martin's team, this would be it: Harry Arter playing alongside Jeff [Hendrick], Wes [Hoolahan] off the front and then Jonathan Walters and Robbie [Brady] and [James] McClean playing off the sides and they could switch," he said.

"Personally, I'd probably switch towards Glenn Whelan in central midfield at Harry Arter's expense. I just feel as if you go with people like Wes Hoolahan and Jeff Hendrick who like to get forward and are very attack minded players operating in that central area of the pitch, for me, to counter-balance that, you need somebody alongside whose got a real sort of defensive mindset, who's very disciplined and can occupy the centre of the pitch, sense danger, position himself well, make tackles and just supplement those attacking players. And for me, Glenn Whelan would be the preferred choice. That might be hard on Harry Arter with a good game for Ireland at the weekend. But if you're going to have Wes Hoolahan and Jeff Hendrick in that central area of the pitch and encourage them to get forward to effect that last third of the pitch, for me you have to balance that off with someone with that real defensive mindset." 

Cunningham is also tipping Ireland to get the result, saying, "I fancy an Ireland win".