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O'NEILL HAS SOME TIME TO REFLECT

THESE days, websites are fond of whacking up a "Ten Things We Learned about…" feature within seconds of a big fixture concluding. It's a race to tell people, as quickly as is humanly possible, what they probably know already.

Martin O'Neill has four blissful months to digest the implications of the last ten days and he needn't hover over a single hyperlink or share with anyone. Well, maybe Roy Keane, but who knows?

It's all in his head, churning around behind those steely eyes, sometimes bubbling towards the surface but usually clamped down tight.

After Tuesday night's win over the USA with a team of understudies and noobs (that one is for the digitally advanced), he was invigorated and chatty. Football and good news were on the menu so why not take a step to one side and forget about some difficult issues?

They won't go away though, despite Roberto Martinez's apparent attempt to lean with the wind and accept the concept that he needs to present his international players in a fit condition without a ten-act drama every time Ireland have an international.

It wasn't much of an olive branch but maybe he was told to calm down by his chairman Bill Kenwright who always seems like a reasonable man.

O'Neill also tried to calm waters when he said after the game that he would "know what to say to Roberto" when he meets him and that he "may have to talk with Bill Kenwright too".

You can take that either way but there is no chance that O'Neill will pour fuel on the fire. He did say it was 'bad cop' and 'bad, bad cop', on the day he took the job. This time he will be the nice guy.

A point has been made and only time will tell how much heed Everton pay to it. The proof will be in James McCarthy, Aiden McGeady, Darron Gibson and Seamus Coleman's cap count.

O'Neill is now a year on the job and he gave a brief overview of the work done, coloured by the defeat in Scotland.

"Well the disappointment, obviously the overriding thing is the result in Scotland. We didn't win the game, we didn't get a point out of the match. That's the disappointment. This was nice, nice to win the game, nice to get momentum back again if that's the case. But, of course, the most important games we are playing are the games in the qualification.

EXTRA QUALITY

"I'm a year in the job now and we've added a couple of players tonight which I think you could see that can give us a wee bit of extra quality over the course of time."

"Cyrus Christie looked excellent going forward as he is doing for Derby County on a regular basis. Young McGoldrick who didn't have a pre-season, I think you can tell that at times during the game, but he gives you a little bit of something that I think we possibly hadn't possessed up there. He's a different type of player to anything we've had before.

McGoldrick and Chrstie have offered instant new options and one obvious one for the two-footed defender is left-back.

"You never know in time whether players can play in different positions. Someone asked me six or seven months ago did I think Seamus Coleman could play wing-back.

"I think I said, hopefully said, I think he could. But sometimes full-backs like that wee bit of protection so that if they're isolated out there they're almost treated like a winger. That is something we would want to have a look at.

"Maybe to get our best players on the field we might have to look at a 3-5-2 formation at home which I think is possible. The problem with all of those things if you want to be really technical about it is that sometimes centre-halves don't really like to go out to gull-back positions. But I'm not so sure that what we have here that the players would be reluctant to do it, as long as we practised it."

These and other matters will occupy his mind in the coming months but he underlined the fact that his plans are built on the shifting sands of an English season in the Premier League and Championship and can have no certainties.

"You might have a situation for instance - somebody who has played really well against America might not be a regular player at club level in the month leading up to Poland.

"So they might come here, having done so well in the game and maybe hanging their hat on that.

"If you're not playing regularly at club level you lose a bit of that sharpness, you lose a bit of that performance maybe you had three and a half months ago," said O'Neill.

" It might do but in that particular time, if they haven't played, you have to assess physical condition on the Monday of the week."

O'Neill will continue his hunt for new talent: "Maybe there 's another Cyrus Christie, another McGoldrick out there? I'll search around and see if those players are capable of stepping into the big arena."


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