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Saturday 19 August 2017

No risks against Gibraltar - O'Neill

MARTIN O'Neill will take no chances with Gibraltar and is asking for an extra level of patience.

"There wouldn't be too many games Ireland would have gone in to with high expectation of winning," he said, pouring cold water on any suggestion that the game against Gibraltar will be something of a training spin.

"The players are pretty well focused on winning the game, that's our aim. Traditionally, we are not a side that scores many goals. Ultimately, the aim is to go to Germany with three more points," added O'Neill.

"I must admit, I do have a little smile to myself. Gibraltar, I know they have got some part-time players playing in their team, but the little player playing on the left-hand side stepped inside the Polish right centre-back with two minutes to go to half-time and fired this shot about three inches over the bar which would have made it 1-1 in the game. It might have been an interesting tussle.

"You haven't seen it - we have had to study it because it's my job. The game was exceptionally difficult for Poland to break down.

"Poland are a decent side. We, seriously, will not be good enough to be complacent, certainly not. We are not good enough to be complacent," he said.

O'Neill qualified his caution by admitting that there is no other option but a win for Ireland, no matter how hard Gibraltar might be to break down.

"We are expected to win, don't get me wrong. There's a difference. We are expected to win the game and that's our intention. But that's it. We might not be able to break them down as easily as one might think," he claimed.

"The emphasis is on us to win the game, of course, we know that. Gibraltar are not expected to beat us in the match. We are hoping to be able to win the game. Traditionally, we are not phenomenal goalscorers, so we have to be creating chances in the game, because we will miss one or two."

O'Neill will set his players a high tempo and he wants them to hit the ground running.

"We have to be really positive from moment one, we also have to be a wee bit careful at the back not to leave ourselves stretched because a couple of times, they broke clearly on Poland and had those opportunities - they didn't finish them and obviously got tired towards the end of the game," said O'Neill.

"I think they will have learned a lot from that particular experience.

"But let's be honest, we should win the game, we are expected to win the game, so I am not going to hide away from that."

O'Neill revealed that Richard Keogh will miss this game with a hamstring injury: "He's feeling much better today but I wouldn't want to risk him tomorrow, it's come too early for him. Probably Tuesday too."

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