Sunday 19 November 2017

Martin O'Neill: If we throw off the shackles we will beat the Scots

Euro qualifier countdown: Ireland boss confident ahead of Aviva tie

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill says that strong side will see off Scotland if they handle the pressure
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill says that strong side will see off Scotland if they handle the pressure
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is confident that his team have the quality to get the win they need against Scotland if they can cope with the pressure to deliver.

The 63-year-old is content with the manner in which preparations for the game are progressing, with all his main players available - in contrast to last November's defeat in Glasgow.

O'Neill believes that overcoming the tension that was evident in the first half against Poland in March is the key to victory on Saturday.

"We have to play well under pressure, throw the shackles off and play as strong as we can - I think that if we do that, we'll win," declared O'Neill. "You have to accept the pressure."

Asked directly about what the shackles are, O'Neill elaborated. "Don't be tense. That's easier said than done. The same will apply for Scotland but I think it's the sort of game that any player would want to be starting."

James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson, Wes Hoolahan and Shay Given were injured for the costly reverse at Celtic Park and their availability will strengthen O'Neill's hand.

"I'm pleased to have them around," he asserted. "We feel we're a stronger squad because of it. They have great experience and that should be important in a game like this."

Robbie Keane - who has extended his contract with LA Galaxy - was benched in Glasgow but has landed in Dublin after coming through a badly needed 90 minutes for LA Galaxy at the weekend following a lengthy injury absence that could complicate his chances of starting this vital Group D qualifier.

Shaun Maloney scored the only goal on Scottish soil and he feels the pressure is on the hosts this week, a claim that O'Neill's camp haven't really disputed.

"The way the group is going, every home game is just so important that you really do need to try and win them," said Maloney, who now plays for Chicago Fire in the MLS.

"That pressure just switches over to Ireland and gives us a little bit less pressure. I wouldn't say a win is imperative. I think we've had a brilliant start to the group. It's going to be a tough away match and I think both sides will think they can win it.

"I think it will be a similar match on Saturday to the last one but I can't see a set piece like my goal happening again."

Irish Independent

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