Saturday 18 November 2017

O'Neill: It's not an impossible task

James McCarthy
James McCarthy

It was no surprise at all that Martin O'Neill didn't hesitate when someone asked if he would take a play-off now before Germany and Poland on Sunday. Who wouldn't in his position?

The next five days hold all sorts of potential for calamity.

"As of this morning? I'd take my chance in the play-offs," he said.

"The Germans are very, very good, but does that mean it's impossible? Absolutely not. We have a challenge on our hands and we have the desire to deal with that challenge."

'We've got two very difficult games. We're playing the world champions, players who are playing Champions League football on a regular basis, players who have won a World Cup, players who have the experience of going away from home and dealing with any given situation and they're improving."

"We're playing Poland away from home, who are very, very strong. Does that mean we just give up? Absolutely not. 'We're going to go there and show a bit of fighting spirit and a bit of ability and a bit of self-belief which is very, very important."

"We have to approach it as positively as we can. We will get a chance to play and it's up to us to manoeuvre the ball well enough to get a few chances at the goal.

O'Neill expects Germany to have the dominant share of possession but he is happy his players can absorb pressure but still find room to breathe.

"Playing without the ball is ingrained in the team and its nothing new. If we stay behind the ball and not be positive the Germans are good enough to beat you. We need to get something out of this game."

Asked whether a win over Germany would top any other achievement in his career to date, O'Neill laughed: "The time to reflect on things is when you've 25 minutes left on this earth and by then it's probably to late"

"But it would be really terrific if we could make it to France one way or the other. Get a result here and get a bit momentum going."

O'Neill is aware that James McCarthy and Jon Walters are both carrying yellow cards into this game but he shrugged off any hint that it might restrict them or him.

"We have a couple on two yellow but I can't go around worrying about that. It is very difficult nowadays to get through ten day programme without picking up a few yellows along the way. As you go along, you're bound to accumulate these things."

"As I said, we need to get something out of this game," said the Ireland manager.

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