Tuesday 27 September 2016

Confusion surrounds Ireland's closed-doors session in France

Published 11/06/2016 | 02:30

Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have had plenty of time to iron out the little details for the
European Championships Picture: AFP/Getty
Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have had plenty of time to iron out the little details for the European Championships Picture: AFP/Getty

Martin O'Neill's Ireland squad return to full work this morning after a 'day off' which included a trip to their training ground in Versailles.

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The FAI had announced that Friday's training session was cancelled, with all media activities postponed, but it duly emerged that O'Neill and his squad did travel to their temporary base at the Stade Montbauron.

A section of media outside the ground saw some players engaging in what appeared to be light training. However, O'Neill later claimed that it amounted to little more than a walk.

The 64-year-old said that he wanted to take things easy in order to build preparations towards Monday's opener in the Stade de France.

"We had a day off today," he said. "What we decided with the medical staff was that we'd try to stay as close to what the boys would be preparing for let's say club football.

"With Monday's game in mind we'll train a couple of days beforehand. Although we climbed on the bus and went out to the training ground, it was really just a walk."

Martin O'Neill speaks with the media after a training session at the Stade de Montbauron, Versailles Picture: PA
Martin O'Neill speaks with the media after a training session at the Stade de Montbauron, Versailles Picture: PA

O'Neill has taken a player-friendly approach to preparations which has included plenty of rest with the intention of peaking at the right time following a long season.

His lingering concern heading into the weekend is the wellbeing of Jon Walters.

The Derryman says that the medical stuff will today examine how his Achilles has responded to a slightly more strenuous run-out on Thursday.

"The rest of the boys have recovered reasonably well," said O'Neill, who is now confident that Robbie Keane and James McCarthy will be fine after the doubts which hung over their participation last week. "Fingers crossed, it's looking more positive than let's say six or seven days ago."

Meanwhile, the FAI last night said that they have completed a refinancing agreement which will reduce the size of their borrowings arising from the construction of the Aviva Stadium.

A statement from Abbotstown said the arrangement was worked out with Bank of Ireland and 'reduces the Association's bank debt from €45m to €35m'.

Further details of the deal will be revealed at the association's AGM next month.

John Delaney thanked Bank of Ireland for their support, along with the help of businessman Denis O'Brien. The FAI chief executive also confirmed that O'Brien will continue to contribute to the salaries of O'Neill, Roy Keane and the Irish management team.

"The Board of the FAI and I would like to pay tribute and thanks to Denis O'Brien and his advisory support through Island Capital Ltd to achieve this positive outcome for Irish football," he said.

"Denis has been a great supporter of the FAI for many years, and will continue to contribute to the salaries of our senior management team for the 2018 campaign."

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