'He's coming up to 35, I have to see how long he can last in games': O'Neill on Wes Hoolahan's Ireland role
He might be one of the team's older players, but you only need to look at Ireland's recent heroics to know that the Boys in Green need Wes Hoolahan more than ever.
The midfield maestro netted Ireland's opening goal at Euro 2016 and assisted key scores for Robbie Brady against Italy and James McClean against Austria last weekend.
Hoolahan made his Ireland debut in 2008 and is set to be 36 by the time the 2018 World Cup arrives.
To that end, Ireland manager Martin O'Neill feels that Hoolahan's playing time needs to be managed to maximise his effectiveness.
"There are certain things that you do need at top-class football and for the most part, you need a bit of physical strength," O'Neill said at the launch of the Spar FAI Primary School 5s Programme for which registration closes on February 17.
"Sometimes you might think that Wes can be a bit fragile in the sense of that. He's a really fine player, absolutely but I've played him in a lot of games. Wes is coming up to 35 years of age. I have to see how long he can last in games. There's matches where you think, will you start Wes because it would be great to get going or do you think he could make an impact in a tight game?"
Hoolahan signed a new two year deal with Norwich in August that runs up until the 2018 World Cup.