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Mignolet: O'Neill to lift Ireland

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LIVERPOOL keeper Simon Mignolet is confident his former club boss Martin O'Neill will be a success with Ireland.

Mignolet played under O'Neill at Sunderland before his move to Liverpool and he credits O'Neill – as well as his goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh – with a role in his own rise to the top.

"I can't say anything other than positive words about Martin," Mignolet said.

"Hopefully he'll do well for Ireland and I'm sure he will do. He motivates people and he'll get the best out of the squad."

"He gave me a lot of confidence. I came back after injuring my nose. I wasn't training for three or four days but he gave me the confidence to step onto the pitch and he improved my game.

"He worked hard with me and we had a very good relationship in terms of analysing the games and improving our games."

O'KANE IS BACKED FOR SENIOR ROLE

CHAMPIONSHIP side Bournemouth believe that their midfield prospect Eunan O'Kane can make the step up to senior international level with the Republic of Ireland.

Derry lad O'Kane has been capped at U21 level by the Republic, winning five caps, but he is now over age. He was on stand-by for the senior squad for the World Cup games against Germany and Kazakhstan last year and Cherries manager Eddie Howe feels that O'Kane can go further.

"What they decide to do, they decide to do. If he carries on playing like he has and continues to improve like he has then, yes, without a doubt," Howe said.

"He really has developed and has been a key figure for us this season.

"He is very good technically and tactically and makes such good decisions for a young guy. He is a very brave player so we are really pleased to have him with us.

"He is still a really good age and young enough, I believe, to have a big impact on the international stage. But it is very much out of his hands and all he can control is how he performs for us."

- AIDAN FITZMAURICE


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