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Saturday 3 December 2016

No injuries as Republic and Northern draw in closed doors training match

Roy Keane, Republic of Ireland assistant manager, shakes hands with Northern Ireland goalkeeper Roy Carroll at the end of the game
Roy Keane, Republic of Ireland assistant manager, shakes hands with Northern Ireland goalkeeper Roy Carroll at the end of the game

MARTIN O'NEILL threw the kitchen sink in yesterday's behind closed doors 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland.

Rating it as a worthwhile exercise against "very strong opposition", O'Neill got to see almost every player in his squad in action and was clearly delighted with the flexibility the session allowed him.

"We were able to change at half-time.

"It was a completely different team for the second half. Lots of our players were blowing quite hard after their 45 minutes which the was equivalent to a couple of training sessions.

"It was pretty much what I expected," he said and reported no injury scares.

Both Jon Walters and Wes Hoolahan have linked up with the squad and although they did not have any part to play against Northern Ireland yesterday, O'Neill is clearly more and more confident every day that they will be available for England and Scotland week later.

"We have no alarms yet, that I know off.

"Maybe one or two will seize up but I think everyone is ok.

"Jon Walters and Wes Hoolahan have arrived but didn't participate. They both feel pretty good. They'll do a bit today.

"I saw Jon play in Stoke's final Premier League game, which isn't that long ago, while Wes was in the play-off final for Norwich, so they shouldn't take much to get them up to full speed." added O'Neill.

O'Neill started Daryl Murphy up front and after a stunning Championship season, the Ireland boss was hoping to see our top striker this season take a step up.

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"Well, he started today. It's not about convincing me.

"I've see him play probably eight times this season and know what he's capable of doing at club level. Mick McCarthy has got the best out of him."

"There is a psychological feeling of stepping up and going into international matches. It's about getting self confidence that he has at club level and feeling you belong on that stage. It's not a question of me not accepting he's a good player, as he certainly is."

REP OF IRELAND: (First half) Westwood; Christie, Pearce, Keogh, Ward; McGeady, Hendrick, Arter, McClean; McGoldrick, Murphy.

(Second half) Forde; Coleman, O'Shea, Wilson, McShane; Meyler, Whelan, McCarthy, Brady; Quinn, Long.

Not involved: Given, Holohan, Walters, Randolph, R Keane.

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