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Friday 9 December 2016

O'Neill demands passion and cool heads

MARTIN O'Neill will demand passion and control in equal measure from his players at the Aviva Stadium against Scotland tonight.

The Ireland boss, aware that discipline was a big issue in Parkhead last November, wants his players to understand how big the game is but to view it through a clean filter.

"It's naturally very, very important. It's important for the nation, it's important for the players and it's important for us - myself and the back-room staff. We would love to do well in it," O'Neill (pictured) said.

"It's about playing with passion and desire but also trying to play with a cool head as well. I think all of those elements constitute a game and all of those elements are part of the make-up of a very good player, too. This is a big game."

O'Neill has defended himself from suggestions that his lack of experience as an international manager is a handicap.

"I think that, despite the fact that it's an international game - where, in terms of experience in international football, I might not have a great deal of that - but I have been managing for quite some considerable time - it doesn't take too long before you come round to real pressure games and this is a big game for us.

"I have players - like John [O'Shea] beside me here - who have played in umpteen of these matches and who, like a number of experienced players that we have, are able to take these things in their stride.

"In terms of myself, in terms of international level. I thought I'd maybe remind you that I did play in the quarter-final of a World Cup.

"I thought I'd let you know about it, 1982. I've got plenty of experience, I think."

build-up

O'Neill is not paying much attention to Scotland's build-up to the game and believes that Ireland must make their own destiny.

"I really don't know what the approach of Scotland is. I know what our approach is, we're going to try to win the game," added O'Neill.

And O'Neill believes that his players are still feeling a confidence lift from that late, late equaliser against Poland in March.

"We're halfway through, we have games at home to try and take some advantage of and that late goal against Poland has still given us that big lift," he said.

"Here, we have the opportunity to not only close the gap on Scotland but to go in front of them. A win takes care of that."

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