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Sunday 20 August 2017

Still none the wiser

Duffy the bright spot for O'Neill in scrappy affair as Ireland still bank a win

Ciaran Clark celebrates his goal
Ciaran Clark celebrates his goal

Martin O'Neill banked a win and a clean sheet against Switzerland but he learned precious little about his fringe players.

The Ireland boss was true to his word and kept most of his regulars on the bench while he gave starts to Shane Duffy, Stephen Quinn and Alan Judge.

Ciaran Clark's headed goal after just two minutes was the difference between the sides after a game which saw Kevin Doyle stretchered off with a bad gash in his left leg.

Doyle needed multiple stitches but initial indications suggest that there is no break.

It was mostly scrappy, disjointed football from both teams and a disappointment if anyone was hoping for a knock-out performance to give O'Neill pause for thought when he picks his final 23.

"I thought young Duffy did very well, commanding and very solid all evening," said O'Neill.

"When the other team has more possession than you, you are driven back. I thought we coped with it well."

"When we have possession we need to have more confidence in ourselves on the ball," added the Ireland boss.

"We'll change things around for Tuesday's game against Slovakia. We've won the game tonight and that keeps the momentum going. We can tidy things up a bit for Tuesday," said O'Neill

Man-of-the-Match Shane Duffy said: "It was a tough night. We got the goal early and defended well in the second half, ground it out and got the win.

"You're always trying to impress. I did my best out there and we'll see what happens. There's a lot of centre-halves ahead of me. You never know," he added.

Alan Judge didn't get a chance to shine, but remained phlegmatic: "Tonight was for me to enjoy my first cap and the boss and Roy told me not to worry too much about the summer. Hopefully, I'll get another chance against Slovakia on Tuesday."

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