Tuesday 20 March 2018

John O'Shea and Republic of Ireland eyeing last-16 spot

Republic of Ireland defender John O'Shea, left.
Republic of Ireland defender John O'Shea, left.

John O'Shea is confident the Republic of Ireland are in the mood to improve upon their last trip to a major tournament when they head for France this summer.

Ireland left Euro 2012 four years ago without having collected a single point after being pitched into battle with Croatia and eventual finalists Spain and Italy in the group stage.

Their task will be difficult again this time around with Sweden, Belgium and the Italians again awaiting them at Euro 2016, but 35-year-old O'Shea has sensed an even greater determination to succeed this time around.

He said: "Ultimately when you get to a major tournament, the first aim when you make the 23, you want to get out of the group, that's the key.

"The atmosphere and enthusiasm around the group have got stronger and stronger throughout this campaign, and that's something that is very similar, but has probably gone up a notch as well.

"It's a different squad, different management and there are lots of different elements involved in it to make me believe that it's going to be very different."

O'Shea, who has 110 senior caps to his name ahead of Friday night's warm-up game against Holland, is one of the senior members in a squad which has changed significantly since Martin O'Neill replaced Giovanni Trapattoni at the helm.

He knows his time as an international footballer is drawing to a close but insists he will not even consider his future in a green shirt until he was wrung every last drop out of his latest European adventure.

He said: "I am just enjoying the next game as it comes, and that's all I am going to do going forward.

"It's a chance - we have qualified for a major tournament - to enjoy that occasion and to grasp it and look forward to it, and whatever happens then happens then."

O'Shea has been a fixture in O'Neill's team when available since the former Northern Ireland midfielder took charge, but found himself cast in the role of understudy as his club Sunderland's latest Barclays Premier League survival mission came to a successful conclusion.

However, he is adamant he is ready to be called upon having been told he will start against the Dutch.

He said: "When the squad is announced, everyone knows they are fighting for that and when you are named in the 23 when the final squad is announced, then it's the battle to get into the XI, so it's a cased of wait and see.

"But look, I have played plenty of games throughout my career for club and country to know that I'll be ready if needed and when called upon."

Press Association

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