Friday 15 December 2017

Goals a big boost for Austria tie

Kevin Long. Pic: Sportsfile
Kevin Long. Pic: Sportsfile

Martin O'Neill celebrated a rare three-goal haul against Uruguay but warned against any wild thoughts about a goalfest against Austria - or anyone else.

"It's nice, we're not going to destroy teams. That's no great secret. We're going to have to fight for every inch," said the Ireland boss.

"So to get some really great goals was fantastic. We need to score against Austria so it is a confidence booster, it's nice to get a few goals.

"The lads will be buzzing having beaten Uruguay. We've got Mexico out of the way although as far as I was concerned, it was important for us to get something out of that match and I did, in terms of fitness and boys trying to adapt to a system they were unused to."

O'Neill gave Kevin Long a full run against Uruguay but he doesn't look like a surprise starter next Sunday.

"I thought he didn't do too badly, he'll not mind me saying, he's got things to work on.

"Getting his body shape right for set pieces, seeing the ball coming in, seeing the danger there, not square on and not standing beside someone either.

"He's really good lad, he wants to listen, wants to learn which is very very important for him. Now he's just essentially starting his career.

"I wanted to have a look at him because he didn't really get a chance. We had a couple of days down in Fota and he played some of the game in Mexico.

"But the rest of the players, other than young Andy Boyle, I kind of know. I know what John (O'Shea) can do. I know what Richard (Keogh) can do."

O'Neill has been doing his best to keep James McClean on an even keel after his big night as captain and 50-cap man in the MetLife.

His goal against Uruguay showed a player in great form but O'Neill saw a few things in New Jersey he wants to have a word about.

"He's on a pretty big high and I thought there were a couple of things in the second half against Mexico," he said.

"He was still going strongly and we had him out in that wing-back role and then eventually he played left back," he laughed.

"He was dying to get on (against Uruguay) and he made a big impact."

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