Monday 24 July 2017

New formation not to blame - O'Neill

 

'James McClean (pictured) and Darren Randolph were the only Premier League players in the Irish team'. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
'James McClean (pictured) and Darren Randolph were the only Premier League players in the Irish team'. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill says that Ireland's struggles in their New Jersey defeat to Mexico cannot simply be pinned on an experimental formation.

And the manager knows that a similarly difficult evening could lie ahead against Uruguay tomorrow even if he switches to a more familiar system.

Ireland suffered a 3-1 defeat to Mexico with O'Neill abandoning a 3-5-2 formation after a tough hour at Meadowlands. But he was more concerned by errors from rusty players that, in his opinion, would have caused problems in any team shape.

"I wanted to see the formation," said O'Neill, who explained why he stuck with it through a challenging first half. "There's no point in trying something for 10 or 15 minutes and then saying, 'We conceded a goal, let's go back to what we know'. You're not going to learn anything from that.

"But don't get carried away that three at the back was at fault. We have to fill gaps. We have to get challenges in. We have to deal with things better."

O'Neill was quite relaxed about the outcome, viewing the Mexico game as a worthy exercise considering the opponents were fitter and much closer to their preferred side.

James McClean and Darren Randolph were the only Premier League players in the Irish team; they will be joined by the rest of the top-flight contingent for tomorrow evening's Aviva Stadium date with Uruguay (6.0), although Harry Arter and Glenn Whelan will only link up with the squad in the morning.

Given the limited window for preparation, it promises to be another tough test for Ireland but O'Neill remains unconcerned by results, with next Sunday's game with Austria his only priority.

"In terms of confidence, or any knock of confidence, I'm really not too bothered," he said.

"The same might occur against Uruguay. But I'm (concentrating on) getting total focus for next week. The be all and end all is the Austria game.

"In terms of experience, for certain players like John Egan, it's a great learning curve. The players in our team should aspire to have that ability that the Mexicans have."

O'Neill was relieved that Shane Duffy got through the full 90 on his first appearance since March 4.

Irish Independent

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