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Friday 9 December 2016

O'Neill: I'll see Martin in semi

North boss prefers to avoid England in Euro draw but his Republic rival is not bothered

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill and Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill
Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill and Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has booked a Euro 2016 semi-final date with Martin O'Neill in advance of today's much anticipated draw in Paris.

"I sent Martin a text saying that I'd see him in the semi-final," he laughed.

"You see what comes out and deal with it. I think for both us and the Republic, it's who will get in Pot 2 and 3 will be the most important thing."

With England looming large in Pot 1, Martin O'Neill is sanguine about the prospect of meeting up with Roy Hodgson in France.

"I genuinely don't have a problem with it. I'm going with feeling, okay, alright, whatever will be, will be. That's how I feel," he said.

But he has learned lessons from Ireland experience under Giovanni Trapattoni in 2012.

"There's three points from each game and we're not in position to pick off some side, I don't care what pot the team is in, to say, 'Oh, I think we can deal with that'.

"If ever there was a lesson to be learned from 2012, it's exactly that."

Michael O'Neill has done some homework and feels that drawing England would have both psychological and practical drawbacks.

"An England game overshadows everything. Everyone will focus on 'you're playing England, you're playing England.'

"There's three games and to you've to find a way of getting four points to get out of the group. When I looked at different pots, I thought that an England could possibly be detrimental to that.

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