Martin O'Neill: We will give it a right go against the Germans
MARTIN O’Neill has promised the Ireland will have a right go at Germany in the Aviva next month but he is certain that qualification will go down to the wire against Poland in Warsaw.
Announcing an extended squad for the crunch double-headers on October 7 and 12 which includes Darron Gibson but no sign of Jack Grealish, O’Neill also confirmed that he is actively pursuing young Arsenal hopeful and Barnsley loanee Dan Crowley.
O’Neill’s assessment of the task ahead is based on his belief that to do anything other than pile into the Germans would be to risk poor morale if the worst happened and Ireland rolled over.
“If we sat in all night against Germany and hope for something and they beat us, I don’t think we’ll feel all that great,” said O’Neill with Warsaw in mind.
“You might have to sit in all night because they’ve driven us back. We’re not blessed with phenomenal pace in the team so we’re not going to be breaking with three boys with blinding pace who could take guys on one on one. So sitting in all night against Germany was tantamount to disaster at the end of the day.
“You want to play as positively as you can in the game. It wouldn’t sit well if you got done in the match and didn’t really go for it. Let’s try to be a positive as we possibly can in the game,” he said.
“If you haven’t had a proper go against Germany the next game a couple of days later, you have to lift spirits so let’s start when we meet up, let’s be as positive as we can be and have a proper go but be sensible about it.”
If a win in Poland is still needed after results on October 7, O’Neill is confident that his team can go to Warsaw in a confident frame of mind.
“If it means that we have to win a game against Poland to still have a chance of going to France then we’ll go for it, we’ll go for it but I can’t sit here and say to you that we will go to Warsaw and win convincingly.”
“Lewandowski is playing Champions League football on a fortnightly basis so we have things to contend with. Let us deal with Poland after the Germany game.
“I had no concentration at all on the Georgia match until Gibraltar. I know you might think he’s only saying that but it’s absolutely true. Georgia came immediately after Gibraltar and that is the only way I can treat things.”
O’Neill has major fitness concerns about Aiden McGeady, Shay Given, Gibson and Robbie Keane, the latter because of ageing legs and the others because of scant match practice.
“I couldn’t tell you if he is capable of starting the two games or not,” he said when asked about Keane. “I genuinely don’t know. I will see when he comes over and hopefully he is still fit. Is he still important to us? Of .course he is.
And Gibson. Has he spoken to the Everton midfielder since his court appearance?
“No I haven’t, I’ve left him alone. I think Roy might have spoken to him but I’ve left it. It was only when they said he was back in training. But I haven’t spoken to him. I think if the game was tomorrow, he’d be a long way off in terms of fitness.
O’Neill is clearly concerned that McGeady, although reporting full fitness, is not getting much game time apart from League Cup and Under 21 fixtures.
“Aiden is an important player to us, even in a short burst. I would like him to get some game time but I can’t force anything through at club level so its a case of waiting and seeing.
“He is definitely someone who looks better and sharper for some match practice. He missed a lot of pre-season and he’s just back physically fit but he would say, still be a good deal short,” said the Ireland boss.
“Glenn did very well the other evening holding in midfield. He’s our most defensive player in that sense. He has been excellent for us.
“James McClean will be an important loss. He’s unlucky not to have started some of the matches. I’ve a lot of time for him, though not when he’s told be careful just before he steps on the pitch and 40 seconds later has has a yellow. Maybe I should have told him the opposite,” said O’Neill with a wry grin.
“He went in with enthusiasm and said he got the ball but when they threw the Georgian’s leg back on the pitch he realised he hadn’t,” O’Neill said to much laughter.
O’Neill’s Jack Grealish update was short and sweet: and the message has not shifted.
“I don’t have any update. I thought he was going to make a decision but again I don’t have any update for you. Essentially the same thing applies, let himself and his father make a decision and whatever decision they come to let’s abide by it. I haven’t spoken to him since.”
He was more forthcoming about Dan Crowley and it does seem as if there is interest from the young midfielder in playing for Ireland after representing England at under-age level.
“I spoke to his father, it was a civil conversation and he’s a very pleasant man and we would have a real genuine interest in that. He has decent ability, not just against Everton, and he followed it up.
“We would like to try and progress. I think there is a goodwill with the situation but whether that was good enough to make someone make up their mind is another thing. He certainly looks like he has the ability to become a really decent player.”