O'Neill to focus on Aiden McGeadyahead of crunch qualifiers
Martin O'Neill will pay extra attention to Aiden McGeady over the coming days in a bid to bolster confidence and try to compensate for uncertain fitness levels before he faces into Ireland's Euro 2016 double-header against Gibraltar and Georgia.
Like several players in O'Neill's squad, McGeady has struggled to find football in the early part of the season. To date, he has managed just 45 minutes for Everton in a League Cup game last week.
"He played in the first-half against Barnsley. I am not going to be able to do an awful lot about general fitness in three days but you are just hoping that when he is back here with the squad...." he said, his voice trailing off.
Clearly, the Ireland boss is hoping that adrenaline and McGeady's own drive to do well in green will kick in.
"I have got a real good belief about Aidan and I want to transmit that to himself. We will have a look at his proper fitness between now and Friday."
O'Neill has similar difficulties among his goalkeepers, although Darron Randolph has seen some action for West Ham and Shay Given for Stoke in the League Cup against Luton.
"Darren has got some games anyway at this moment with the suspension of West Ham's goalkeeper and that's great, great for us," said O'Neil.
"It's been a tough old time at this minute for Fordey (David Forde) and last Tuesday night Seamus McDonagh and I went across to watch Shay play in the game. So Shay has at least got some time, got 120 minutes in the match. Like everything it's not possibly ideal but it is what it is."
O'Neill is not phased by the upheaval caused by the move from the Ireland team base in Portmarnock, although he did express a fondness for the routine which became traditional for Irish teams stretching back to Mick McCarthy's time in the job.
"I think initially I might have had a concern. I have always said I really do enjoy Portmarnock Hotel. They looked after us very well. Malahide, where the ground staff have looked after us really well, was great for us," said the Ireland manager.
"Are you asking me if I was sad to leave that? Absolutely. But this is not just about me. This is about the future, here.
" Honestly, the pitch is absolutely splendid. It couldn't be better. It was the vision for the FAI and well done them for pressing on with it."
O'Neill revealed that David McGoldrick and Daryl Murphy have been ruled out and that Jonathon Walters missed training because of possible last minute involvement in the transfer window.
"Better be on hand if something did develop, as for one or two of the others, I think it's very much a wait and see.
"If there might be the possibility of a loan deal for one of the players, if they're happy with medicals being done elsewhere, then that might be a case of faxing and being OK with that.
"If it's a full-blooded transfer, if they have to go, they have to go."