Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick set for chance to impress against Mexico
Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has challenged strikers Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick to play themselves into his World Cup qualifier plans in New Jersey.
The pair could both be involved in Ireland's friendly clash with Mexico at the MetLife Stadium during the early hours of Friday morning and with Robbie Keane having retired from international football and Shane Long injured, there is a place up for grabs when Austria head for Dublin on June 11.
Victory over the Austrians at the Aviva Stadium would leave O'Neill's men in a strong position to secure qualification from Group D, and whoever leads the line will have a key role to play in that quest.
Asked if the Mexico game was an opportunity for Murphy - who scored his first senior goal for Ireland in a 2-2 draw in Serbia in September - to stake a claim, the manager replied: "Very much so.
"We've seen very, very little of him since the start of the competition. He scores the header against Serbia, great, then certainly when the international matches come around, he seems to be plagued with those injuries.
"At the minute, he's trained, he seems okay. He's one we'll look at a bit more carefully. He's delighted to come and I think this should help him with his club career."
It has proved a frustrating season for 34-year-old Murphy, who started just eight league games and scored five goals for Newcastle last season following his move from Ipswich in August.
But the chance to resume his partnership with former club-mate McGoldrick is one O'Neill hopes will pay dividends, although he hinted it is not his only option.
He said: "It was very effective [at Ipswich]. Of course I'm well aware of their relationship. There's a good chance those two will be on the field and probably at the same time too.
"Yes, it's a thought in my head but it's not the prevailing thought in my head. I think they can play with someone else alongside them if that's the case or play on their own."
Murphy made his Ireland debut at the old Giants Stadium, which stood just yards away from the site of the MetLife which replaced it, against Ecuador in 2007 and is one of a series of Ireland players to have benefited from a first exposure to international football in America.
Four years ago, midfielder Jeff Hendrick was handed a first start for his country in a 2-0 friendly defeat by Spain at Yankee Stadium in New York, while 12 months later, central defender Shane Duffy followed suit in a 1-1 draw with Costa Rica in Philadelphia, and both are now fixtures in the team.
O'Neill said: "If you're thinking about Duffy himself, he has come on a treat in those couple of years since I first saw him playing for Yeovil on loan from Everton.
"He has come on very, very strongly and has been great and has had a great season, and Jeff is obviously fulfilling that bit of potential he had shown before.
"It's a chance, and these opportunities shouldn't really be passed up by players."
With no specialist left-back in his 19-man squad, O'Neill may have to be creative in his selection, although he has revealed he has had centre-halves volunteering to plug the gap for a game in which the performance is more important than the result.
He said: "The friendly games don't concern me at all. If that's what we were judged by, we would do exactly what some other nations do - Switzerland and Wales don't play them at all.
"The most important aspect is to get prepared for the game against Austria, which is the be all and end all."