O’Neill ready for Euro decision time
DUBLIN – Martin O’Neill says 90 percent of his Republic of Ireland squad will know their Euro 2016 fate after Friday’s penultimate warm-up clash against the Netherlands in Dublin.
Republic of Ireland’s manager Martin O’Neill (R) looks on ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifying group D football match between Republic of Ireland and Georgia at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on September 7, 2015
O’Neill was speaking at the FAI National Training Centre ahead of the meeting with a Dutch side that has not qualified for France, during which the Republic manager hopes to move a step closer to finalising his 23-man group.
He had previously said he would name his squad after Friday’s game, but now plans to delay the announcement until Tuesday night’s UEFA deadline, following the game with Belarus in Cork.
Arguably, there are places up for grabs in all areas of the pitch, with O’Neill adamant he’s giving everyone a chance to prove fitness and form.
“I think I will have told quite a number of players that they will be going to France this weekend,” O’Neill said.
“But I think if I was player and I had an opportunity still, and that opportunity was Tuesday night to play, and it was announced afterwards if I’d made it or hadn’t made, I think I’d want to take my chance on that. And I think that’s how the players feel.
“Because some of the players have not played the right amount of football, this is still an international game, on Friday night and Tuesday night, to stake a claim so it’s not a guessing game.
“If Italy and Belgium and any other nation have decided this is what they’re going with and have left some players out, that is their prerogative.
“I’m not in it for a guessing game. If a lot of the players had played the amount of football I’d have liked then I might have made my mind up early. I’m not here to have mind games with them.”
– True thoughts –
Midfielders Harry Arter, Stephen Quinn, Eunan O’Kane and Darron Gibson are among those likely to get their chance to shine on Friday, with forward David McGoldrick another keen to push his way in from the fringes, while there remain question marks over O’Neill’s true thoughts on the goalkeeping situation.
Gary Rogers, the Dundalk goalkeeper, was training with Darren Randolph on Wednesday as Shay Given was rested, with David Forde and Keiren Westwood still away on club duties.
One or both of those, along with Hull City midfielder David Meyler, who will play in Saturday’s Championship play-off final against Sheffield Wednesday keeper Westwood, should be asked to join the squad on Sunday.
Kevin Doyle is expected to fly in from the United States for Tuesday’s game at the home of his former club Cork.
“Someone can make a late charge to try and get into the side,” O’Neill said, “Whether you get half an hour, a full game or 25 minutes, do your best.”
James McCarthy, the midfield lynchpin who became ever more important to O’Neill’s side as the qualifying campaign progressed, may not play in either warm-up game, but appears set for a spot in the squad nonetheless.
“I’d be fairly certain that if he wasn’t fit for Friday he could play Tuesday and if he wasn’t available on Tuesday, I would still like to take him as I think he’s going to be ok,” O’Neill said.