John O'Shea seeks home comfort ahead of crunch Poland clash
JOHN O'SHEA insists that Ireland's poor home form has to change - starting with next Sunday's meeting with Poland - if the side are to qualify for Euro 2016, as the Sunderland defender aims to put his club woes behind him and help Ireland get closer to France.
O'Shea was honoured in Dublin last night when he was named as Ireland's senior player of the year at the 3/FAI International awards ceremony, the veteran winning the award for the first time at the expense of team-mates Aiden McGeady and Jonathan Walters.
O'Neill's squad assembled in Dublin yesterday and last night, - a late arrival for some players who were on Premier League duty (Seamus Coleman, Darron Gibson, James McCarthy, Paul McShane, Robbie Brady, Stephen Quinn).
McGeady's fitness will be of concern to the Ireland boss - he sat out Everton's win yesterday, the 11th game in a row he has missed for his club - but the winger will be given time to heal for the Poland clash, a "must-win" tie for O'Neill's outfit, and a repeat of the heroics from their rugby counterparts would suit for O'Shea.
"It was important listening to Andy Townsend last night, what he said about qualification, all through the years how many twists and turns there were, high and low moments," said O'Shea, after accepting his award, on the same night that ex-Ireland captain Townsend was inducted into the FAI's Hall of Fame.
"Poland is crucial. We have spoken about home games, we had Gibraltar at home and we were going to win that one, Scotland will win their game against them too, so we have to get a positive result against Poland, and that's a win.
"If we are going to qualify, it [home record] has to change, simple as that, we have to make sure.
"We had a few games, the Austria match in particular, when you are in a winning position you have to be clinical, and hopefully we will do that," added O'Shea, keen to set aside Sunderland's relegation woes.
"It's one of those things, you'd love to be coming in having scored a hat-trick or winning 5-0 or 6-0," he said.
"Because of the group we have, a club atmosphere, as soon as you come into the team hotel and meet the security lads, they soon have you thinking about the game coming up.
"You can't switch off, you have to be fully-focused as that's how you get results."
O'Neill finalised his squad for the Poland tie late last night.
David McGoldrick, Anthony Pilkington and Jeff Hendrick miss out through injury while Rob Elliot, Paul Green and Simon Cox are cut from the squad as O'Neill now has a 29-strong panel in place for the first training session today.