Friday 2 December 2016

James McCarthy can cope with Scottish boo-boys - Martin O'Neill

Damian Spellman

Published 13/06/2015 | 11:48

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill with James McCarthy, during squad training. Gannon Park, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill with James McCarthy, during squad training. Gannon Park, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has backed James McCarthy to beat the boo-boys as he prepares to go into battle with Scotland.

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The 24-year-old Glasgow-born midfielder is likely to be a target for the travelling fans at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening after opting to represent the Republic rather than his native country.

However, O'Neill is confident the Everton man will cope with whatever comes his way.

He said: "You have to be able to cope with these things, that's what makes players. Players, for one reason or another, have been booed by away support for endless numbers of months and eventually, the very, very fine players, it doesn't bother them after a while. They tend to get used to it.

"But my own view is I think he should be able to cope, and I don't see it being a problem to him - and he will have the bulk of the support, so that's important."

O'Neill will leave record scorer Robbie Keane to decide if he is mentally ready to play in the Euro 2016 qualifier after his family suffered a second tragedy.

The 34-year-old, whose cousin Alan Harris died on Wednesday after being overcome by toxic fumes while working in a sewer in Portmarnock, learned on Friday morning that Alan's brother Stephen, who was left fighting for his life after the incident, had lost his own battle.

Meanwhile, Gordon Strachan insists the feel-good factor around the Scotland squad is due mostly to good results such as the 1-0 win over the Irish at Celtic Park in November which helped his side go two points clear of their hosts.

However, the former Parkhead boss remains "wary" of it all going wrong in the second-half of the campaign.

He said: ""The trust that has been built-up and the hard work we have put in has helped.

"But the best thing for team spirit is not nights out, golf days, going on go-karts, it's winning games of football, it makes them all feel better.

"We are feeling good to a certain point but we are always wary it can go. They know they need to keep working.

"It is the same on the other side, they have had a terrific year as well, so they can be pleased with what they have done.

"It is up to the players to try to perform again.

"If we can get that and for some reason don't get the points we are after then so be it, we move on to the next game.

"But at this moment in time, it is excitement that surrounds the camp and I sense it is going to be an occasion."

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