Tuesday 22 January 2019

O'Neill right to keep his cards close

MARTIN O'Neill knows his best team by now, but he doesn't give away much and I can't see any reason why he should.

Preparing for his first competitive international game is new to him and he is right to keep his cards close to his chest.

But if I was in O'Neill's shoes, I would like to see as near to my best team as possible. He may know his best eleven, but nothing has been confirmed for him.

James McCarthy won't start because of blisters, but that's not unusual at this time of the year and something you can't plan for.

It is safe to assume that he knows as much as he needs to know about his players but until he actually seems them play together in a competitive environment, he can't be sure of anything.

I'm certain that's why he was throwing out comments about using a three-man defence. The way I read the quote, he wants players to be adaptable but he doesn't have enough time to work with them to change to a new system like that.

In other words, it was a bit of manager speak, designed to say something and nothing. Georgia is a big game for Ireland and O'Neill and he will try to deflect all attempts to second guess him or to hype up his team's chances.

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