Thursday 18 January 2018

Whole new ball game

O'Neill wants his Euro heroes to pick it up again in Serbia

John O'Shea during squad training in Belgrade Photo: Sportsfile
John O'Shea during squad training in Belgrade Photo: Sportsfile

Forget about France, because this is a whole new ball game.

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill wants a fresh start from his Euro 2016 heroes and he is predicting a war of attrition in Group D.

But the good news is that O'Neill has cleared both Seamus Coleman and John O'Shea to play and will pick from a full deck for tonight's Russia 2018 opener against Serbia in the Red Star Stadium in Belgrade.

"I think this will be so tight, so, so tight that every point is going to be valuable and no one will run away with this group.," he said.

"Sitting on the eve of the competition and there will be a lot of twists and turns. There is only one certain of qualification so your mindset must be set to that," he added.


Both Coleman and O'Shea stepped up their training over the last few days and barring last-minute hitches, will play. O'Neill does not deem it a gamble to throw in two men lacking match fitness.

"I've no qualms about putting people in. They have trained with no ill effects," said O'Neill.

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