Friday 15 December 2017

James McCarthy 'came of age against Poles'

James McCarthy
James McCarthy

MARTIN O'Neill believes that James McCarthy (right) came of age against Poland and can now kick on and become the international midfielder everyone hopes for.

"It was a coming of age. Sometimes you are looking for a bit more from him. I thought he was tentative in the first half and he's given it away a couple of times when he should deal with the ball a wee bit better," said O'Neill.

"I mentioned that to him at half-time and I thought he came on strongly in the second-half. Strong himself, brushing people aside and driving forward with the ball which I think he is able to do. He dominated proceedings and he kept us on the front foot."

O'Neill also praised Robbie Brady's recovery, coming after a difficult start against Poland.

"Robbie's delivery is usually better and he over hit a couple of balls and then the mix-up for the goal didn't help.

"He's a character, he took it on board and fought back strongly in the second-half and with James coming on helped him greatly there. The two of them seemed to be interacting a bit."

Looking forward to Scotland, a now must-win game, O'Neill is happy that such a huge qualifier will be preceded by an equally big occasion against England.

However, he sees the England games as a means to an end and won't lose any sleep if Ireland lose or he has to use the game for fitness.

"There's a couple of points to that, really. One, the championship season finishes I think in the first couple of days in May and there'll be a number of players that I'll be relying on who may not be in the playoffs, so I have to look at that situation.

"That's a long time for them. The England game, I agree in the sense that it's a big, big match but I don't think we should overlook the fact that for me it's a build-up to the Scotland game.

"It will be intense and that might be a good thing but from a distance and I can only judge from a distance.

"It is a means to an end for me but you know my view. At the end of the day if you want us to win a load of friendly games I'll play the 700th rated team in Europe every single week and build it up.

"These are games where we take it on. It's a big match but it's not for me. The Scotland game is the be all and end all."

O'Neill is contemplating a behind closed doors fixture as part of the build-up to the June double-header.

"It might be something behind closed doors.

"Now this game is finished with, we can re-look at the situation and see where we are.

"We will find out in the next couple of weeks who might make the playoffs in the championship and then take it from there."

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