'They need to play in the lead-up to France' - Martin O'Neill issues warning to benched players
Published 18/11/2015 | 21:17
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has emphasised how important it will be for his players to gain regular football in the run-up to France 2016
O'Neill can only bring 23 players to the major tournament and every eligible player will be doing to their utmost to maintain their place in his plans or force their way into the squad.
Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy were among those who failed to make the trip to Poland and Ukraine with Giovanni Trapattoni in 2012.
Stephen Ward has seen more action in an Irish shirt this season than at Burnley and the likes of Aiden McGeady and Darron Gibson are struggling to make an impact at Goodison Park.
O'Neill want his players to see his players getting more time on the pitch but doesn't want them breaking down the door of their club manager demanding to be played.
"I would hate that as a club manager, for people coming in and saying to me 'by the way I want to play more in the team because I have an international match to worry about'. You would be apoplectic with that," he told Off The Ball on Newstalk.
"Players do need time on the field. These next few months and certainly after Christmas time in the lead-up to France, players do need to play.
"Ican only choose so many players and fitness does play on your mind.
"For the likes of Aiden McGeady and Darron Gibson, players who haven't had much playing time for Everton just recently.
"We owe an awful lot to Aiden McGeady, his goal in Georgia, his two goals. The one to give us all three points was massive for us. I don't forget these things but players do need to get time on the field.
"It's important for fitness, it's important for confidence.
"One or two players who have been in or around the squad and who have been excellent in their approach and their loyalty, for want of a better word, we will have some games hopefully coming up in March time.
"I will be making judgments on club form and I'll be at lots and lots and lots of games and that's great.
"It's important for some players who get an opportunity in March to stake a claim."
Qualification has been met with joy by the Irish public and O'Neill believes Monday's result was good for the Irish psyche, especially given the disappointment from the Rugby World Cup.
"It's a boost for the country. We had a bit of disappointment with the rugby side because we felt it was a great opportunity, I'm not saying to go and win the tournament because New Zealand would be difficult, but perhaps the best opportunity to get into a semi-final and then with the wee bit of disappointment there, it felt as though we had to take the baton on and carry it forward," he added.
"If we haven't made it, there might have been a lot of drudgery around Christmas time.
"I'm genuinely delighted."
The Ireland boss has seen improvement in his side over the course of the campaign and wants his team to play more football when the opportunities arise.
"We have to compete. We lack certain things. It's very, very difficult to play against Germany who keep the ball or Spain who keep the ball, so when we have it we have to make use of it.
"What I would love for us to be able to do is have the confidence and courage to keep having the ball.
"If there is immediate danger, any decent side would clear danger but when you have it, try keep it because trying to get the ball back in any game is like an art in in itself.
"If you keep giving the ball away ridiculously badly then it becomes a problem.
"Those are the things you want to do but you've got to compete and you have to have your heart and soul in it and that's what pleased me.
"The side never gave up. Some people started to say that 'you've scored late goal' almost as if it as a criticism.
"Manchester United made a habit of it over a decade, for us to score late goals showed something, it didn't prove anything, but it showed something. It proved a determination to keep going.
The players rose to the occasion and came through, I can ask for nothing more."