Thursday 17 October 2019

Martin O'Neill backs Roy Keane in managers row

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and assistant manager Roy Keane
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and assistant manager Roy Keane

John Fallon

Martin O’Neill has backed Roy Keane’s criticism of Premier League managers who declare players unfit for “10 or 14 days”.

The Ireland manager, speaking on the eve of the crunch Euro 2016 play-off against Bosnia-Herzegovina, echoed comments made on Tuesday by Keane in the wake of the weekend Premier League fixtures.

Sam Allardyce and Steve McClaren had ruled John O’Shea and Robbie Elliot respectively out of both legs, albeit O’Shea misses Friday night anyway due to suspension.

“I think the point Roy was trying to make that, for instance, player who had played the previous weekend for their clubs and have come out of that doing okay. Then, suddenly are withdrawn because of injury," O'Neill told Talksport radio.

“That’s the frustration of it all. Roy mentioned the usual thing of it being 10 to 14 days (out), which just happens to cover their time away on international duty!

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“So from that viewpoint, that can be a frustration. If you can iron it out, eventually it is probably down to the player. If the player feels he come and play, that’s a major plus.

“I see it from both sides because I managed at club level. During my club time, I never prevented anyone heading off to playing international matches. I think it’s a big honour.

“At the same time, you can get concerned about players being away for a few weeks coming back and interrupting your plans."

Meanwhile, O’Neill is delighted to see his former club Leicester City scaling heights of third place in the Premier League. As the Derryman pointed out, they are the form team since March.

“It’s been astonishingly brilliant for them,” he gushed. “If you consider how well they did in the 10 games of last season and now, then if the season started then, they’d only be about 97 points clear at top of the Premier League!”

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