Thursday 18 July 2019

Ireland boss Martin O'Neill thinks this week's setbacks will encourage a siege mentality in Cardiff

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during a press conference at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during a press conference at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill believes that the interrupted preparation for tomorrow's UEFA Nations League opener in Wales will encourage a siege mentality in his dressing room.

But the Ireland manager added that it exists for most games regardless of the circumstances.

The 66-year-old admitted that the build-up for the Cardiff game has been far from ideal with Preston's Alan Browne the latest player to drop out due to a calf problem.

James McClean broke his wrist in two places in training on Tuesday and the Ireland camp was already dealing with injuries to Shane Long and the news about Harry Arter and Declan Rice stalling on their international future.

"I sometimes think we have that siege mentality anyway," said O'Neill, "James is a loss for us, no question.

"In the World Cup qualifying campaign, he became a big figure for us - so much so that he broke his wrist in two places and as he was being marched off to hospital he was talking about getting a plastercast and trying to play. That tells you about his desire to play for the Republic of Ireland. We will give absolutely everything we have in the match."

O'Neill hinted that circumstances might force him to field a debutant in the game - with Preston's Callum Robinson a natural contender.

By contrast, Wales are at full strength with Gareth Bale available after missing out on last October's loss to Ireland in Cardiff.

"It's a very big challenge of course, it's really big for us," said O'Neill, "Gareth Bale is a world class player, it's worth emphasising that.

"He didn't play here (last October) but he did play in Dublin and outside of one fantastic run he was reasonably quiet. But he can change the game with a click of the fingers."

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