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Friday 15 December 2017

O'Neill bides his time on recruits

THE GRANNY rule is still in cold storage for the Republic of Ireland as Martin O'Neill admits that potential recruits to the Irish squad are still in the long grass.

Now in his ninth month as Ireland boss, O'Neill has stuck with the squad he inherited from Giovanni Trapattoni and has yet to uncover a previously-unknown gem, as bids to land players like Chlesea prospect Patrick Bamford and Spurs man Harry Kane have so far been fruitless.

"There were things that we're looking at in the background, there are a number of avenues that I'm exploring," O'Neill said in Mullingar today.

"I know that it's an old cliched phrase but it's exactly right, I am, and there are a number of players who have declared more than an interest in joining us but until everything is solved, resolved and signed up if there is such a thing as that I'd be reluctant to start mentioning a load of names.

Hoping

"Over the course of the next 10 to 12 months, although we'll have played quite a lot of games in that time, you're hoping that maybe some of the young lads will come through, maybe from League of Ireland, you never know, but also, I presume, in Britain, lads that can take their place and be worthy of playing and actually be comfortable playing.

"That's in the not too distant future I hope. Obviously with the games coming up I'll probably be relying on a lot of the squad that I've had for the last number of weeks."

O'Neill added that he was encouraged by the displays by teams like Costa Rica at the World Cup finals. aware that his own side drew with the Costa Ricans before the tournament.

"I don't suppose anyone who travelled out to Philadelphia and saw them in the game against us would have thought that Costa Rica would do so brilliantly but when you're there absolutely you can do it," said O'Neill.

"Algeria were magnificent and I thought the USA were (also) and of course that give you hope and that gives you encouragement.

"Costa Rica had quite a lengthy process about trying to qualify in the first place but when you're there, absolutely, give it everything you've got.

"I think sometimes when you're playing in a confined competition like that where it's intense and you get off to a decent start then everything sort of rolls with you.

"Germany, worthy World Cup winners I think in the end, will they be up for the matches in the European Championship qualifiers again?

"Of course, they will be but at the end of the day it does give you hope and we'll just go, be prepared as much as we possibly can and give it everything we've got."

Meanwhile, O'Neill says he has been keeping a closer eye on the domestic game, with the Ireland boss noting Dundalk's performance in Europe against Hajduk Split last night - Stephen Kenny's side won 2-1 in Croatia but lost the tie 3-2 on aggregate - as well as name-checking Evan Osam, who made his debut for Shamrock Rovers at the age of 16 while O'Neill was watching last week.

But O'Neill says that his plan is now is to await feedback from club managers in the League of Ireland before making any calls on potential players.

"In terms of enjoyment the two evenings were great and I hope that I shall be able to attend a few more matches between now and the end of the season," said O'Neill, who watched the Dundalk-Hajduk Split and Bray Wanderers-Shamrock Rovers games.

"You are maybe relying on managers coming up and saying 'by the way this is the one, this is the lad you should be looking at, he has been terrific for the last seven, eight, 10 weeks or whatever the case may be and at least then I can short-circuit things.

"Dundalk were really unlucky in their match, they had a number of chances before Hajduk took the lead, Hajduk scored relatively early on but Dundalk had some good chances, they missed three in particular where they'd have expected to score.

Damage

"I am not sure that 2-0 was a right feeling about the game or a proper complexion on the game and they proved that by going and winning out there, they will feel the damage was done in the home game.

"I enjoyed the games but trying to assess a lot of players at the first time of asking is particularly difficult. Rovers had a young lad making his debut, Paul Osam's son, he's only 16 and you are immediately attracted to him, I thought he did really well in the game and that's really encouraging as he is only 16, who knows what might happen in the next couple of seasons but if he has any sort of tenacity like the father, things augur well but it's hard to make an assessment just on that."

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