Sunday 28 May 2017

'He is a nice little play maker' - Martin O'Neill plays down the significance of Wes Hoolahan

Republic of Ireland's Wes Hoolahan in action with Slovakia's Dusan Svento
Republic of Ireland's Wes Hoolahan in action with Slovakia's Dusan Svento
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill was eager to play down the significance of Wes Hoolahan’s latest eye-catching performance in his side’s 2-2 draw against Slovakia at the Aviva Stadium.

Hoolahan was lauded once again for his assured display in the heat of the midfield battle, but the O'Neill was eager to dampen down the suggestion that the Norwich pass master will be his side’s key player at the Euro 2016 finals this summer.

“Wes is a nice little play maker and he gives us a bit of extra in there at times and when he is on his game, he can be potent for us,” the Ireland boss stated in an interview with Setanta.

“I would not agree with the idea that we are relying on him to be fit (for the summer). I saw some really decent football, little Eunan O'Kane did fine as well.

“Sometimes we gave the ball away cheaply, Wes included. We are talking about major players staying fit between now and then (Euro 2016)."

Some worrying defensive lapses marred Ireland’s latest warm up game ahead of their adventure in France, but O’Neill was not concerned on a night when he made a host of changes to his first team line-up.

“Let us take a few things into consideration,” he added. “It was nice to win the game against Switzerland (on Friday), but we changed things around tonight and I thought the cohesion we did have tonight was pretty good considering the changes we made.

“I thought we played well in the first half of the game and naturally I felt that the substitutions from both teams made it a bit of a disruptive second half.

“There were a lot of positive and we played a lot of attractive football. We gave them problems when we had the ball and tried to be a wee bit more compact when we didn’t. All told, particularly the first time, it was good.”

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