O'Neill happy with summer get-together plans as he looks to Euros
MARTIN O'NEILL has conceded that a lengthy gathering at the end of the season is unlikely to excite players, but it will give the Ireland management a perfect opportunity to finalise their thoughts ahead of the serious business later this year.
Ireland are set to play four friendlies, with a Dublin encounter with Turkey, a London showdown with Italy and a North American tour comprising fixtures with Costa Rica and Portugal – although confirmation on the overseas arrangements are still pending.
O'Neill is happy with developments, particularly as the lack of an August friendly makes the summer get-together the last opportunity to trial players before the beginning of the Euro 2016 campaign in September.
"We have a couple of friendly matches at the end of the season. There's a possibility at this minute of maybe even a few extra games, but that has not been confirmed yet," said O'Neill yesterday.
"But, a bit like Scotland in that sense, we are concentrating really on trying to implement some sort of a plan, trying to see as much of the players as we possibly can.
"This period we will have at the end of the season, while not ideal for players, is absolutely fine for us and, of course, it's an opportunity to see as many players as possible."
Without delving into specifics, O'Neill stressed his satisfaction with his three games in charge to date, with the recent loss to Serbia providing the Derryman with plenty to ponder.
"We have had three games – the two games in November were in quick succession, at home to Latvia, which we would expect to win anyway and we did; the draw in Poland was fine, and although for long periods against Serbia, I thought we played very well and possibly could have won the game, we lost the match," O'Neill continued. "We have got plenty to discuss."
Meanwhile, Ireland international James McCarthy has hailed the role of Aiden McGeady in Everton's weekend win over Cardiff and generally praised the impact of Roberto Martinez's substitutions.
McGeady put in the cross that eventually led to Seamus Coleman's fortunate slice which claimed the three points.
"They (subs) were looking sharp and that's always going to be important," said McCarthy. "We need the subs to come on and make that little bit of difference.
"Aiden's come on and put the ball in for Gareth (Barry) to knock back and it's an important goal. It's a squad game and the subs made a big difference."