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Shocks & Surprises of Ireland's First World Cup Squad

With Vera Pauw initially naming a 31-player squad, the challenge of reducing this to just 23 players was always going to be a tough one. Heartbreak was guaranteed for some, whilst others were granted the opportunity to be placed in Ireland's history books.

Katie McCabe will captain Ireland's first World Cup squad, but without the experience of Megan Campbell and Leanne Kiernan who miss out. However, with limited caps under their belts, young stars Izzy Atkinson and Abbie Larkin did make the cut.

Jamie Finn is arguably the most surprising omission from the squad, having featured in every qualifier in Ireland's World Cup campaign. The Birmingham City midfielder has fallen down the pecking order within her national side, having been included in the starting XI that beat Scotland in the qualifying play-off final in October.

Pauw said that omitting Finn from the final squad was the "hardest decision" as "she has given so much to the team."

The shock exclusion of Finn seems to be down to the tactical changes in Ireland's front three, with Kyra Carusa playing up front, pushing Heather Payne into Finn's position on the right.

Leanne Kiernan is another big name to have been left out of Ireland's World Cup squad. Having missed most of Liverpool's season with an ankle injury, her chances of showing her talents were limited. She returned to fitness recently, playing 45 minutes for her country in their win against Zambia.

At only 24 years of age, having 27 caps for her country, as well as 4 goals, is a great achievement. Whilst of course she will be disappointed not to be on the plane to Australia, she will have many future opportunities to represent her country at international tournaments.

Izzy Atkinson and Abbie Larkin were two questionable inclusions in the World Cup squad.

West Ham's Atkinson was not included in Pauw's initial 31-player training squad but was brought in for their game against Zambia due to Megan Campbell's struggles with fitness issues. The 21-year-old obviously made an impression on Pauw during the 45 minutes she played in their win over Zambia, as she earned herself a call-up.

18-year-old forward Abbie Larkin received a place in the squad after Leanne Kiernan missed out due to lack of match fitness. With 7 caps and an international goal to her name at such a young age, she has clearly impressed Vera Pauw enough to earn a seat on the plane.

After battling with injury issues, Aoife Mannion and Megan Campbell both seemed unlikely to make the final cut, but will nonetheless be disappointed to miss out on Ireland's first world cup squad.

Mannion returned to Manchester United's training ground before the international break, giving her hope to return to international duty in time for the World Cup. However, this hope was short-lived as the two-time WSL Team of the Year defender missed out on this occasion.

Campbell is known for her strong long-throws, leaving Ireland without these capabilities for their World Cup campaign, as she misses out through an unspecified injury. She was forced to leave the provisional squad's camp as she was undergoing return to play protocols, not passing fit in time.

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