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Sunday 23 October 2016

'I'm not the sort to disappear' - Martin O'Neill commits to the cause

O'Neill tight-lipped on contract clauses but says Russia is his only focus

Published 24/09/2016 | 02:30

Martin O’Neill Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Martin O’Neill Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Martin O'Neill has refused to disclose if his new contract has clauses which would allow him to leave if a club came calling but says that his record shows he will be going nowhere.

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The 64-year-old says that he is committed to bringing his team to the 2018 World Cup in Russia after finally putting pen to paper on a new contract. Assistant Roy Keane and the rest of the backroom staff are also staying on.

O'Neill turned down approaches during his first two years in the job, most notably from Leicester City, and stressed yesterday that he couldn't even contemplate walking away midway through a campaign.

"I want to do the job," he said. "And certainly after the Scotland game (June 2015 - Leicester approached afterwards) there wouldn't have been a prayer of me walking away that time. Not a prayer.

"Listen, I'm not going into the ins and outs of it," he continued, when pressed on whether there was a break option in his deal. "I really don't think that's important. I'm not in the habit of disappearing. I want to try and do well in the competition. I felt when I came into this particular job that it was a job I wanted to do and be successful if In could.

"And I feel delighted that we qualified for the Euros and delighted that we did fine out there as well.

"So there is a sort of vindication about it. If we hadn't qualified in the first place, I mightn't even be sitting here talking to you now but that's the nature of the game. We're trying to push on again now.

"And I think Roy's got exactly the same commitment, wanting to drive on. As I say, who knows what might happen? I don't know is the answer. But is there a determination to go and try to qualify for Russia? Absolutely."

O'Neill shrugged off any suggestion that the slow resolution would have unsettled his dressing room.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "I was speaking to two of the players one evening and saying in terms of looking at my own managerial record and in terms of longevity at particular clubs - Sunderland apart - I think that you would realise that I am not one for just downing tools at any given minute.

"It never concerned the players and I think we got great delight and pleasure from the Euros. I think the minute that they go back to their clubs, I think their minds are completely focused on club football.

"What would I need to reassure players for? Do you know what players want to know? They want to know two things. They want to know if they are playing and if they are getting paid. They like the manager if they are playing and they are not that fond of him if they don't."

O'Neill was speaking at the announcement of his provisional squad for the World Cup qualifiers with Georgia in Dublin on October 6 and Moldova in Chisinau on October 9.

Barnsley midfielder Conor Hourihane and Falkirk goalkeeper Danny Rogers are named on the long list for the first time.

Brentford's Scott Hogan has an 'open mind' on his international future but has yet to declare for Ireland.

O'Neill has spoken to the prolific striker's agent and has been given the player's phone number so they can arrange a discussion.

Shane Duffy returns from suspension and Aberdeen's Jonathan Hayes is back from injury, while there are recalls for Birmingham's Stephen Gleeson and Colorado Rapids' attacker Kevin Doyle to a 33-man panel that will be trimmed closer to the time.

Irish Independent

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