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O'Neill is ready for white hot derby tie

MARTIN O'Neill doesn't quite share Roy Keane's belief that Ireland's showdown with Scotland next month will be 'brutal', but he is certain it won't be a night for the faint-hearted, writes PAUL HYLAND.

Keane gave his assessment of the task ahead earlier this week and expressed the belief that it would be both brutal and intense, with tackles flying all over the place.

"You always have to temper what Roy says," he said with a laugh. "But I can imagine it will be a derby atmosphere. It is a big match and there is always something of a brutal nature to it."

"I think Scotland feel they have advanced somewhat under Gordon Strachan and we are trying to get momentum ourselves but it is a big game.

"For Scotland, some of the words Roy used, I would feel that would be close to the mark. I don't think we would fear them. We have a lot of respect for them.

"That is not to say they don t have a bit of momentum themselves. At Celtic, it's a tough game for us. I'm hoping when it comes, as I always said, we have our best players available and if we do, we will give it a go, give it a go regardless and try to get something out of the game.

"We still need to play with discipline in the game. We can't afford, I don t care who we are playing, to be playing without the (best) players available.

"If we run around marauding simply because it's against Scotland, we would have to rethink that. We need discipline, particularly when you know the atmosphere is super charged from minute one."

O'Neill is confident that with a full hand to play with, he can match Scotland: "We can match up the Scots without a doubt and we can cause them genuine problems home or away."

O'Neill had hoped to have Derby recruit Cyrus Christie and Ipswich striker David McGoldrick signed and sealed in time for this squad but there has been a delay in processing paperwork. "The paperwork seems to take eternity to sort out. There is no real serious issue," said O'Neill.

"But the possibility of these two being available? I'm having to wait on some things coming through. Absolutely a possibility, if we can get all the red tape cleared up."