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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Irish boss to consider US summer trip

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

MARTIN O'NEILL will set his mind to the kind of hard graft which will allow him to build a bank of knowledge about his players when he sits down in the next few days and looks at the fixture list for the coming months.

After a whirlwind ten-day honeymoon, O'Neill will sit down and work out a plan but the fundamentals will be addressed along the way.

"I will be watching a lot of games. I am hoping to be over in Dublin next week or at some stage in the next 14 days to get time maybe with (FAI CEO) John Delaney and see the backroom staff," he said.

"There's a few things to organise but generally speaking it will be football matches where the lads will be playing so let's say by March I can form a really strong opinion on the players."

He will also resolve the issue of whether he needs to bring in further help in the backroom team. "This has been great and it was right in your face for the number of days that we had. I might be able to take stock on Thursday and Friday, maybe not," he added.

Fixtures

O'Neill is not certain about his fixture programme other than the game against Serbia in March and will examine the options available in May/June before committing to games, despite the traditionally strained response to summer friendlies.

"I am going to reverse this. As a club manager, I must admit, I thought 'what are they up to, the boys should be lying on a beach'. Now I am going to reverse it completely and say to them 'what were they ever thinking of?'

"There's a game in March coming up and then the next time will be sometime in summer. But I am totally aware of players at the end of the season being absolutely drained," he said before confirming that the USA is again on the menu for a summer tour.

"I think that is certainly an option, absolutely."

O'Neill will keep in touch with his players but will play it by ear before he establishes a regular round of contacts.

"I think I will but I will let them go and settle down now and leave them perhaps 'til Christmas. I already mentioned to them in the dressing room that I would phone one or two. Of course, they turned their backs and ran," he said. "They have club commitments now. It's been great and terrific in the dressing room, the boys have been great but the minute they touch down they will be tuned into club football."

And how is Roy getting on?

"He's really into it. I think you could tell that from the press conference he did – hopefully you could tell that. He has been really positive. A positive influence, I should say, because he is positive anyway. A positive influence on the players. I'm sure if you grabbed a word with the players they'd have nothing but praise for him."

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