Monday 12 November 2018

Martin O'Neill admits Ireland are struggling on 'very big pitch'

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Reuters
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Reuters
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill believes the size of the Aviva Stadium pitch might be posing problems for Ireland.

And he has urged his players to stick tight to each other this evening to put the pressure on Wales.

The Ireland manager conceded that his team sat too deep in Saturday's dull draw with Denmark and says he wants them to address that in their must-win UEFA Nations League tie.

"It's very a big pitch, the Aviva, and maybe we are shorn of a bit of phenomenal athletic ability," said O'Neill.

"I agree that the distances (between defence and midfield) are important and we do try to work on that.

"When we clear danger, let's get up a little bit so it gives everybody a chance. It helps the players in midfield who don't have big distances to cover if they lose the ball.

"But that's sometimes easier said than done. Sometimes if we drop back, it feels that there may be safety in numbers."

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O'Neill used his pre-match press conference to praise the determination of his squad ahead of their rematch with a Welsh side that has been severely weakened by the loss of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey.

"Technically we're short. We know that," he said. "I think everybody can see that. But we're not short of heart."

O'Neill will have to make at least one change to his side with Callum O'Dowda ruled out.

Wales are expecting a physical contest with defender Ben Davies saying it's up to Ireland to do what suits them best - Denmark's Thomas Delaney yesterday described O'Neill's side as primitive on Instagram.

"People can say whatever they want about the football they play but it's about getting results," said Davies.

Irish Independent

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