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I'm right behind 'terrific' Roy, insists O'Neill

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Martin O'Neill has strongly supported his assistant Roy Keane ahead of Ireland's friendly with the USA. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Martin O'Neill has strongly supported his assistant Roy Keane ahead of Ireland's friendly with the USA. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Martin O'Neill during a press conference ahead of tonight's friendly match at home to the USA

Martin O'Neill during a press conference ahead of tonight's friendly match at home to the USA

SPORTSFILE

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Martin O'Neill has strongly supported his assistant Roy Keane ahead of Ireland's friendly with the USA. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Martin O'Neill says that Roy Keane has been a 'terrific' influence as Ireland assistant manager and dismissed any suggestion that his presence is causing problems for the group.

Keane caused a stir on Sunday by angrily taking on members of the press over the inference that he was becoming too much of a distraction following an altercation in the team hotel last week.

The Ireland manager strongly supported the Corkman ahead of tonight's Aviva Stadium friendly with the USA and John O'Shea backed his view.

"Every single time you mention Roy, it either seems to be a distraction or another issue," said O'Neill, addressing the media.

"Let me tell you straight, I'm delighted to have him. I chose in the first place to bring him in here, he's been really terrific. Around the lads he's been great. Everything that I wanted him to be.

"All the distractions, some things have materialised that actually aren't of his doing to begin with so I haven't got a problem."

O'Shea added: "I'd definitely echo those sentiments without a doubt. It's brilliant having him on board. Roy has experience of playing at such a high level and passion for the job. All those factors combined are very helpful.

"It (distractions) doesn't bother us one bit, honestly. Ultimately we train great, everything is prepared for us great. And it's up to us to do the job on the pitch."

O'Neill indicated that he would speak to Everton boss Roberto Martinez in light of Keane airing his concerns about the future availability of Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy following an autumn of injury sagas.

Keane was also critical of Jack Grealish's father for the delay in sorting the teenager's international future, but O'Neill stressed the number two was free to offer his thoughts.

"He's got a mind of his own, he can say what he wants," said the Irish boss. "Again, unless it's absolutely and utterly in contradiction with what I am saying to you, then I do not have a problem with it. It is not an issue all the time."

O'Neill has targeted a strong display against the Americans with a view to building towards a year where Ireland's Euro 2016 future will be determined by the strength of their home performances.

He is hoping for a vocal environment in the stadium yet accepts that the team have to give the crowd something to shout about.

"We'll need a bit of help from the crowd," he said, "And we have to help ourselves too. It'll be interesting to see what it's like at the Aviva. We've gone into the lion's den as well a few times with the three away games."

Derby defender Cyrus Christie and Ipswich attacker David McGoldrick will make their debuts this evening with the management believing that the latter can add a different dimension to the side.

But O'Neill disputes analysis which argues that Scotland caused Ireland a variety of problems in Glasgow.

"I don't think Scotland were startlingly brilliant," he stressed, "But eventually I'm judged by results. We lost the game, the criticisms falls on me and that's absolutely fine.

Irish Independent