Giovanni Trapattoni has put his faith in Richard Dunne and James McClean as his reign as Republic of Ireland boss approaches a defining moment.
The 74-year-old Italian had indicated earlier this week that 33-year-old stalwart Dunne would return to the heart of his defence for Friday night's World Cup qualifier against Sweden for the first time in a competitive game since the Euro 2012 finals.
But he sprang a surprise when he named his starting XI and included Wigan winger McClean in it as the injured Aiden McGeady's replacement.
Anthony Pilkington had been tipped to make a debut on the left, while striker Simon Cox was considered as an option, but it was 24-year-old McClean, discarded by Sunderland over the summer, who eventually got the nod after impressing in the corresponding fixture in Stockholm, a 0-0 draw in March.
Trapattoni said: "He played well, he is also physically strong and this game is a tough game - it will be a technical, but also a physical game against Sweden. They are strong physically.
"At first, I thought about playing with four strikers, but then I thought three strikers is already enough, and because also during the game the other options could be very important.
"During the game, I can also choose to have other tactical opportunities. That is the reason."
Dunne's return will add experience and know-how to a defence which has repeatedly laid the foundation for the Republic's better results under Trapattoni.
The manager still needed assurances over the decision to select a man who because of injury played only 25 minutes of football last season - and that came in June.
Discussing Dunne, now at QPR, Trapattoni said: "I said at the last conference, I have to think very well about Richard because firstly, it was a long injury and secondly, he was without a club.