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Beautiful weather but anxious times for O'Neill in Cork


Robbie Keane Photo: Sportsfile

Robbie Keane Photo: Sportsfile


Robbie Keane Photo: Sportsfile

Martin O'Neill will hit peak anxiety when he sits down for Ireland team doctor Alan Byrne's final assessment before he submits his 23 to UEFA and if he has to steal a half-hour, he will.

"I don't think we'll worry too much about an extra half-hour. I think once the game is over, once the players get some sort of OK from Alan the doctor, that nothing serious has happened, then I should be able to submit it," he said.

Given the sudden spate of knocks and concerns about Robbie Keane, Harry Arter and James McCarthy, O'Neill could find himself relying the on the word of several players.

"I think that's okay. You have to put some trust in players somewhere along the way and while everyone wants to play I don't think anyone would fool themselves," he said.

"You think that we should have this well and truly under control but it is jumping too far ahead.

"Harry's only just come out there now. He was alright in the morning. He was alright before the press came in," he said with a rueful smile. O'Neill is keen to see a competitive game against Belarus and is looking forward to a full-house at Turner's Cross.

"I want it to be a game that we get something out of as we did do the other night. I'm just going to watch Belarus now, they played Northern Ireland the other evening, I'm just going to have a little look at it myself," he said.

"I think it will be great here for the crowd, the groundsmen have done fantastic here, the pitch looks really good and it should be a really decent atmosphere, our last game before we head so all of those things are good. There'll be a bit of euphoria but I want us to play well obviously. A full house and I think it will be great. Honestly, regardless of what happens, you're going to run the risk of somebody getting injured but by the same token I need the likes of Meyler and Murphy and some of the other here to play."

When it was suggested that he made an inspired choice for some warm weather acclimatisation on a coastline which was doing a fair impression of the Riviera, O'Neill laughed.

When someone pointed out that there have been some very heavy thunderstorms in the area O'Neill wasn't thinking about meteorology.

"Those thunderstorms might take place when we get back to the dressing room," he laughed.

O'Neill has begun to widen the scope of his preparations and had men spread across Europe over the last few days gathering information.

Sweden drew 0-0 with Slovenia in Stockholm last night.

"Seamus McDonagh and Steve Guppy went to that game and Steve Walford is away to the other game (Belgium v Finland). I think Belgium are a pretty decent side. If they can afford to leave a boy who scores in the Champions League final out of the 23 it might give you an indication of their strength," he said.