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Monday 23 October 2017

Extra game in Cork now a possibility

Alan Judge
Alan Judge

Martin O'Neill is trying to add one more fixture in his schedule for Euro 2016 to fill the gap in preparations after Ireland meet Holland at the Aviva on May 27.

The FAI are exploring possibilities but the favoured option at the moment appears to be a practice game, possibly against Cork City, during the squad's spell at Fota Island.

"There is a possibility, in fact a fairly decent chance that it will be down in Cork. We're looking at a couple of things. It's only when you realise how difficult a season it is for the Championship players," explained O'Neill.

"You are automatically thinking that a number of them will be in the play-offs and that their season will carry through. But a number of them might not make the play-offs and that gives them a wee bit of extra time to recover from that league."

Organise

"Then, going into the matches you might need that extra game. We will definitely be going eleven versus eleven, regardless of whether we can organise it or it. But if we can organise it then it will be definitely down in Cork."

More immediately, O'Neill revealed that he will have his eye on two players in particular over the coming week - Kevin Doyle and Alan Judge.

Doyle's move to America has taken him out of O'Neill's orbit and while the Ireland boss doesn't see these two friendlies as in any way a trial for a player who has already shown his capacity at international level, he does see it as a test.

"I don't think Kevin would be all that happy to think he was on trial having done something in the game himself," said O'Neill.

"I would prefer to use the word opportunity. It's an opportunity for Kevin and if it meant you having to play really, really strongly when you get on the field to prove to me or to yourself that you're worth a place, if that's putting a bit of pressure on people, I'll have to deal with it."

O'Neill has been complimentary about Judge more than once in recent months and the reward for some consistently excellent work for Brentford is an active role in the two Easter internationals.

"He's got nice talent, good heart and has got great enthusiasm. He wants to belong to it and wants to be part of it.

"I think he has shown enough in the games for Brentford over the last year that it would be nice to give him a go," said the Ireland boss.

"We have got a couple of lads coming in like Jonny Hayes and young Judge, who has impressed in training though he hasn't got on the field of play yet."

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