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Wednesday 22 August 2018

Martin 'looking forward' to watching 'talented' Darron

MARTIN O'Neill believes he is now ready for the serious business of championship qualification and before tonight's warm-up against Oman, sounded a message of hope.

"It's a long road ahead and it's a glorious place to end and that's where we want to go," he said.

O'Neill asked for this game because he believed that some of his players might struggle for first team football and would need game time but he can also use it as a dress rehearsal even if James McCarthy will not play any part because of blisters and a likely starter Jeff Hendrick is ruled out by injury.

"Joey has gone home, he has a problem and thought he could overcome it but he needs some treatment. Jon Walters had a scan and a bit of puffiness. He was feeling a little sore and stepped out of training. James McCarthy has blisters but I don't think he would have been playing anyone. He will be okay for Sunday," said O'Neill rounding up his inoruy concerns.

Robbie Keane is no longer on the risk list and may play a part against Oman: "He trained this morning and he's feeling fine and has no ill effects. He could be involved against Oman."

O'Neill highlighted the fact that Darron Gibson will start and challenged him to complete the comeback in the coming weeks and months.

"He is a very, very decent footballer who has not played too much. He is a very talented player and he looks comfortable and in really decent shape. I'm actually looking forward to seeing him play," said O'Neill.

"Whether he plays half a game, or if that's enough for him, these are decisions we will consider. For the tournament ahead, ideally he would like to break into Everton's side and he's close which is great. But he is just coming back from a long term injury."

"I think the game coming up, if you're talking about physical preparation, Darron, McClean and Ward have not had much football and there's a few in that boat. Going into this you would like to be in top condition but mentally we are tuned in."

"It's the start of the competition and from that view point we are as prepared as we can be. It's been a long time and something I have never been used to, not playing a competitive game in eight or nine months."

"We want to start as strong as we can and get some points on the board in a group that will be very tight and four teams will be vying for those top positions."

MARTIN O'Neill believes he is now ready for the serious business of championship qualification and before tonight's warm-up against Oman, sounded a message of hope.

"It's a long road ahead and it's a glorious place to end and that's where we want to go," he said.

O'Neill asked for this game because he believed that some of his players might struggle for first-team football and would need game time but he can also use it as a dress rehearsal even if James McCarthy will not play any part because of blisters and a likely starter Jeff Hendrick is ruled out by injury.

"Joey has gone home, he has a problem and thought he could overcome it but he needs some treatment. Jon Walters had a scan and a bit of puffiness. He was feeling a little sore and stepped out of training. James McCarthy has blisters but I don't think he would have been playing anyone. He will be okay for Sunday," said O'Neill, rounding up his injury concerns.

Robbie Keane is no longer on the risk list and may play a part against Oman: "He trained this morning and he's feeling fine and has no ill effects. He could be involved against Oman."

O'Neill highlighted the fact that Darron Gibson will start and challenged him to complete the comeback in the coming weeks and months.

Comfortable

"He is a very, very decent footballer who has not played too much," said O'Neill.

"He is a very talented player and he looks comfortable and in really decent shape.

"I'm actually looking forward to seeing him play.

"Whether he plays half a game, or if that's enough for him, these are decisions we will consider.

"For the tournament ahead, ideally he would like to break into Everton's side and he's close which is great. But he is just coming back from a long term injury."

"I think the game coming up, if you're talking about physical preparation, Darron, (James) McClean and (Stephen) Ward have not had much football and there's a few in that boat. Going into this you would like to be in top condition but mentally we are tuned in.

"It's the start of the competition and, from that viewpoint, we are as prepared as we can be. It's been a long time and something I have never been used to, not playing a competitive game in eight or nine months.

Positions

"We want to start as strong as we can and get some points on the board in a group that will be very tight and four teams will be vying for those top positions.

"You can sense it now. This friendly has come up at this moment to get preparation in. But the boys who won't start but are pretty much assured of playing on Sunday are ready."

O'Neill dangled the possibility of a three-man defence for the game in Tblisi.

"What I hope try and do this week is be a little more flexible. This idea seems like a new-fangled thing, the idea of three at back and if we had to adjust systems, the players to a certain extent, could be comfortable.

"These are things you have to work at and in the length of time we have is not feasible. But we would like a few formations so players don't feel its alien concept if we have to adapt."

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