By Ronan Murphy
The recent international fixtures taught Giovanni Trapattoni a lot about his Republic of Ireland squad. The 2-1 win over Kazakhstan reminded fans of Ireland's failings, while Tuesday's friendly international with Oman brought back a sense of hope as the fringe players impressed.
However, despite a number of players improving their chances of featuring for Ireland, some more experienced names need to get themselves back on track if they want to line out against Germany and Faroe Islands in next month's World Cup qualifier.
Five players who grasped the opportunity to impress:
|Wolves striker saved Ireland's blushes on Friday night, coming off the bench to provide a goal and an assist.
Having been an automatic starter during Euro 2012 qualifying, Doyle had a point to prove after being replaced by Jonathan Walters against Kazakhstan.
Doyle followed that up with another goal on Tuesday, captaining Trapattoni's experimental side to a 4-1 win.
|Manchester United winger Robbie Brady's stock has risen more than any other player this week.
The top scorer for Ireland under-21s marked his senior debut with a goal, and played a part in two more as he proved to be a considerable asset for Trapattoni.
Ireland have been lacking a genuine set-piece threat in recent years, and Brady looks to be the real deal from dead ball situations.
|Meyler was another player to win his first cap on Tuesday, and the Sunderland man proved an adequate replacement for Darron Gibson in the 23-man-squad.
He worked tirelessly against Oman and looks to be exactly the kind of box-to-box midfielder Trapattoni needs in his midfield.
|Ireland's most in-form striker got a rare start in green on Tuesday and made the most of it with a well-taken goal.
Long boasts eight goals in 29 caps and formed an excellent partnership with Kevin Doyle up front against Oman. An impressive cameo against Kazakhstan will also have helped his cause.
|Did well in his first competitive start for Ireland, replacing the suspended Keith Andrews in midfield against Kazakhstan.
The Wigan midfielder always looked to get on the ball, even when it was being played long to Jon Walters, and showed good vision with his passing. Another assured display against Oman followed.
And the five players who need to up their game before Germany:
|Once again, Stephen Ward was at fault for the concession of a goal, giving away a needless free kick which led to the Kazakhstan opener on Friday.
Marc Wilson got the nod at left back against Oman while Seamus Coleman impressed on the right. Ward may find his place under pressure if he fails to cut out mistakes.
|Whelan was another who took some blame for Kazakhstan's goal, failing to stay tight to his man when the free kick was flighted into the area.
His performance in midfield was also overshadowed by James McCarthy, who looked more confident with the ball. David Meyler's solid outing on Tuesday and the return of Keith Andrews means things look ominous for Whelan.
|Trapattoni's long balls to Walters started well against Kazakhstan, but soon the defenders found a way to deal with the presence of the Stoke City man.
As the game went on, Walters became more anonymous, and replacements Kevin Doyle and Shane Long offered much more. Walters is another who needs to improve his club form if he's to retain his place in the team.
|Sunderland winger James McClean watched on from the sidelines on Friday, but made all the headlines for his ill-thought post-match tweet.
The foul-mouthed outburst landed the Derryman in trouble with Trapattoni as well as club manager Martin O'Neill, and McClean must learn from this mistake. Trapattoni used the occasion to exert control over McClean, using him only from the bench against Oman.
|Without Dunne in defence, Ireland lacked a real leader on the pitch against Kazakhstan.
The Aston Villa defender is sidelined with injury, but needs to regain his fitness ahead of next month's qualifiers, and needs to be back in Paul Lambert's side if he's to have a real impact against Germany.