Thursday 23 November 2017

Martin O'Neill expects departures after World Cup tilt

 

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

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill believes a changing of the guard is inevitable when Ireland's World Cup campaign draws to a close.

His side still have hopes of making next summer's tournament in Russia and the focus is on this week's double-header with Moldova and Wales where the target is making a play-off.

But the Ireland boss - who has yet to fully clarify his own intentions - has conceded that members of his squad are approaching the end of the road and are likely to step away whenever the interest in the tournament ends.

Robbie Keane and Shay Given quit after Euro 2016 but O'Neill still retains a core of players in their mid-thirties and he envisages another changeover.

"Of course, age catches up with you," said O'Neill. "You're hoping for younger, fresher blood - boys who can not only step in but eventually be as good as the players who are leaving.

"I think it's just a natural progression that one or two will probably end up calling it a day. I'm hoping it's not Friday or Monday.

"I think, of their own volition, some of the players will think then that... you mentioned John [O'Shea] and a couple of other boys around the same age who might think, 'I am not certain of playing any more', there will be a new look again after the World Cup qualifying, whenever it may be, and I think there would be a natural exodus."

Irish Independent

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