Tuesday 17 October 2017

Martin O'Neill: Players can be trusted and won't abuse freedom

Irish boss insists current squad of 'good boys' show respect to team discipline

Martin O'Neill speaks at a press conference yesterday ahead of Ireland's friendly against Italy on Saturday. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Martin O'Neill speaks at a press conference yesterday ahead of Ireland's friendly against Italy on Saturday. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
David Kelly

David Kelly

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is confident his players will not abuse the freedom he has afforded them off the field as his side prepare for the second of two end-of-season internationals against Italy in London this Saturday.

O'Neill has maintained a midnight curfew on his charges, some of whom were allowed out to socialise and visit family following Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Turkey in Lansdowne Road.

However, all his predecessors have faced unwanted distraction off the field in the recent past but O'Neill trusts his players will respect his authority.

"The players have been terrific here," he said.

"You give them a little bit of leeway. They are professional players. Some of them have families living not too far from here.

"We've done the training, it's the end of the season and I think they enjoy a little bit of freedom that they get.

"And none of them at this minute – famous last words these will be, of course – but none of them have abused it. They've been absolutely fine.

"After the Turkey game, there was a curfew on to just after midnight and one or two went home to their families.

"The rest were here and they were absolutely fine, obviously disappointed with the result but essentially they are really good boys.

"Genuinely, really good. And if given, I suppose, a normal feeling of a bit of respect for them, they have not abused it anyway, at the moment.

"What I've tried to do is allow them a little time. The Stoke lads asked early for a little time with their family. I'd no problem with that."

Derby trio Jeff Hendrick, Conor Sammon and Richard Keogh linked up with the squad at Malahide yesterday. Goalkeeper Rob Elliot, who is getting married, and Stoke trio Marc Wilson, Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters, who are attending the wedding of a friend, temporarily departed. QPR striker Kevin Doyle will meet up with the squad tomorrow while Coventry 'keeper Joe Murphy will join the party briefly in London the following day.

Only Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark did not train as he treated a minor back problem, but he is expected to be fit.

The squad have a day off today but will spend it together at a private golf function.

Irish Independent

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