Monday 26 September 2016

'Brilliant' display can open door, says O'Neill

SOCCER

Published 27/05/2016 | 02:30

Harry Arter is pushing for involvement in tonight’s encounter with the Dutch at the Aviva. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Harry Arter is pushing for involvement in tonight’s encounter with the Dutch at the Aviva. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Martin O'Neill says that he is willing to make space in his Euro 2016 squad for a player who didn't feature in qualifying if they produce a 'brilliant' display in the warm-up games with Holland and Belarus.

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But the Ireland manager has ruled out taking a chance on French hopefuls carrying knocks, with James McCarthy likely to fill the quota of players selected for the final 23 with a question mark hanging over their fitness.

His suggestion that there might be space available for a bolter will offer hope to Harry Arter and David McGoldrick who are both highly rated by management and pushing for involvement in tonight's encounter with the Dutch at the Aviva.

However, both have suffered interrupted campaigns due to fitness issues so, in addition to demonstrating their quality, they will also have to show they are durable enough to offer something to O'Neill's panel.

"Somebody might just overwhelm us in these two games," said O'Neill, when asked if he would lean towards his tried and trusted. "It doesn't matter whether you've played or not before. You're in the side because you've played brilliantly in these games and that might be the deciding issue.

"Naturally, the boys who've done so well in the last 10 or 12 matches and put their heart and soul into it - that also plays a part."

McCarthy is so important to Irish plans that O'Neill is to name him on the list submitted to UEFA on Tuesday even if a problem with his hamstring prevents him from figuring in the final warm-up friendlies. Others won't be as fortunate.

"If he doesn't play in any of the two games but feels that's all it is, I'd think James has done enough to be in the 23," he said.

"Those extra couple of days might do him the world of good. What I wouldn't like is to be going in with two or three players whose fitness has been a concern, not just for a day or two but over a period of time."

Irish Independent

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