Tuesday 11 December 2018

'I don't think the fans have deserted the team' - Martin O'Neill says his side have public backing

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

MARTIN O'NEILL believes that the Ireland fans have stuck with the team after a challenging year but admits they need to give them something to shout about at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow night.

O'Neill is under pressure to deliver a result against Denmark in a match that brings Ireland face to face with the team that ended their World Cup dream last November.

It kicked off a troubled period with uncertainty over the manager's future, the saga surrounding Declan Rice, the row involving Harry Arter and Roy Keane and then a drubbing in Wales last month in the UEFA Nations League opener.

Ireland now face into a home double header with Denmark and Wales and O'Neill accepts that strong showings are required. Dublin form was an issue in the World Cup tilt.

"I don't think the crowd need re-energising. I think it's up to us to do that on the field of play," said O'Neill today. "I don't think the fans have deserted the team by any stretch of the imagination. We're going to have a really decent crowd again on Saturday. They've been really supportive of the team and it's up to us on the field of play to do something about it."

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Shane Long should be available for Ireland after coming through another training session today, while O'Neill confirmed Jeff Hendrick would retain his place after bringing the midfielder along to the pre-match press conference.

O'Neill again stressed that Arter had a point to prove after his return to the camp with a visiting Danish journalist bringing up the tension that hung over the September double header.

"That has been addressed and it's fine," said O'Neill. "Harry is training here at the moment and the player and the assistant manager are on good terms now. The rest is up to Harry."

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