Sunday 16 December 2018

McGoldrick fitness is an issue but he has quality: O'Neill

Ireland’s David McGoldrick takes on Jetro Willems of The Netherlands during the friendly at the Aviva Stadium last Friday. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland’s David McGoldrick takes on Jetro Willems of The Netherlands during the friendly at the Aviva Stadium last Friday. Photo: Sportsfile

Martin O'Neill believes that a fully fit David McGoldrick would have long ago ended any debate about his potential value to Ireland in France.

The Ireland boss watched McGoldrick tire early in the 1-1 draw with Holland on Friday evening at the Aviva and will have another look when Ireland meet Belarus in Turners Cross tomorrow.

"I like him as a player. I've a few decisions to make."

"He's got a bit of nice ability," said O'Neill. "He's a strong lad and he comes off the back four for Ipswich."

"He drifts into positions where it's difficult for centre-backs to pick him up. That's when he's fully fit and ready to go."


"He has had a tough time. He's been around with us now for 18 months but just when you think he's getting there at club level, the next thing you know he's out for a couple of months.

"When he's fit, as I've seen him play, he's definitely a handful. He can see that pass and can actually convert. We haven't seen that here for one reason or another, mainly fitness but even against Holland I thought he was fine."

"I thought the game itself became tiring for a few of the players and he got a little bit tired towards the end of the first-hand but he got a second-wind," said O'Neill.

A certain starter against Belarus is Daryl Murphy (right) who is still searching for his first Ireland goal but is looking like a certainty to make the final 23 unless Kevin Doyle can make a late run.

"It would be a big boost for him if he could score. All being well he starts on Tuesday. It would be nice for him to get off the mark. The longer you go without a goal the more concerning it his for him," said the Ireland boss.


O'Neill conceded that another man in the spotlight, Harry Arter, threw himself into the task against Holland with a bit too much fervour. "Harry got booked for a pretty rash challenge for Bournemouth as well. That's in Harry's game and I'm not so sure you can take that away from him.

"You can curb a bit of rashness but you can still make an impact."

The big winner from the Holland game was Shane Duffy who is now a certainty to travel and will complete a very rapid rise to the top when he arrives in France.

"I thought Duffy did very well and he's made a big impression. He's improved. He's playing regularly at Blackburn and he's mad e a big impact.

Duffy's height and power make for a potent combination at set-pieces and neither O'Neill nor his players need to be told how important they will be.

"We conceded two set-pieces in qualifying. we conceded against Scotland and we conceded against Poland. I said to the players at the start of this if we don't concede a goal from a set-piece we'll qualify," claimed the Ireland boss.

O'Neill reckons he is very close to making his final choice but is still wide open to the possibility of a late charge - even at this stage.


"I'm pretty well close on things. I've a fairly decent idea about the players I have," he said. "I would like the game on Tuesday for the possibility of everything.

"Somebody coming up and doing well, somebody I felt would be in the 23 might pick up an injury. You might pick up a hamstring injury which would be the worst because you know it will take three or four weeks to clear."

O'Neill will also try to give David Meyler, fresh from Hull's Wembley play-off success, some minutes.

"David Meyler may or may not get on the field of play but he's been great for us. He's very popular and he threw everything into the game in Germany. That point helped us get there."

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