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Martin O'Neill will ask team to fight for full points


James McClean

James McClean

James McClean

MARTIN O'Neill has laid it on the line for his players in advance of tonight's crunch Euro 2016 battle with Georgia: "We have to fight for everything."

"Regardless of what the results were in the past, they will be coming here buoyant thinking that they can do it. They have some really good players," said the Ireland boss.

"I was thinking that, maybe, they might celebrate and fly out on Sunday but they came straight here after the game so that's how serious their intentions are," he said.

"Actually that's not a bad thing for us. I don't think we are capable of sitting back and thinking that something is going to happen. We have to fight for everything."

"Their celebrations at the end of beating Scotland were if they had qualified for the competition itself. So it's a really big game for us."

"The position we are in, we've two home games and one away and you would not say that the games after this one are easy."

"Scotland still feel that there is an advantage in terms of us by the better head to head record. I know that might be of significance at the end."

"It's up to us now to try to go - regardless of what happens in Scotland - to get out with the three points."

O'Neill was flanked by Robbie Keane at the pre-match press conference which usually indicates a place in the starting line-up and it would seem that Wes Hoolahan, not quite Ireland's record goal scorer's vintage but still a veteran, will also get the nod despite a short recovery time after Gibraltar.

"I think Wes, not only does he look young but he's about as young a 33-year old as I've seen. During the course of his career, he might be like one of those racehorses, lightly-raced," laughed O'Neill.

"He has not always been in everyone's starting line out. He's 33 going on about 18. I took him off in the game to help preserve energy. "

"He's a growing influence in our side, very good, particularly at home in matches here where we're having trying to unlock defences. He's particularly good at that, certainly improving."

O'Neill is fully aware that while conditions were nigh on perfect in Faro, the turnaround for Georgia could place high demands on some ageing legs.

"It is a consideration, definitely. We'll look at players who played in the game and those who game on, who made in an impact on the match, which was good. We'll see how the players are. "

O'Neill indicated that he is happy with the level of competition within his group: "While there's a good camaraderie about the players, everyone obviously wants to play."

"We'll have to make a call on a couple of players. I'll have to ask Robbie how he's feeling. I'll all of those things into consideration. By the same token, we obviously have to try to win a game and we need to have some creativity in the side."

That could mean a start for Aiden McGeady, given a short spin against Gibraltar but still short of match fitness although James McClean (inset) is also in the mix.

"I'd like to have had James on the field against Gibraltar at some stage or another but he's pretty fit anyway. He's a naturally fit lad, his stats are always very high in training and in matches."

"Just maybe a little bit of game time would have been fine but he's definitely under consideration. We have to try to still be strong in the middle of the field.

"Seamus thankfully might be back in contention again. He did a little bit training and we'll see how he's is."

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