Martin O’Neill hints he will widen selection options by bringing in new players

End-of-season games against Turkey, Italy, Costa Rica and Portugal offer fresh opportunities

 Martin O’Neill has stuck very closely to the core group of players that were was generally selected by his predecessor, Giovanni Trapattoniduring.

Martin O’Neill has stuck very closely to the core group of players that were was generally selected by his predecessor, Giovanni Trapattoniduring.

Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 01:10


Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has again hinted that he will try to widen his selection options by bringing new players into his squad for the expected end-of-season games against Turkey, Italy, Costa Rica and Portugal.

“We have a couple of friendly matches at the end of the season,” he said yesterday. “There’s a possibility at this minute of maybe even a few extra games, but that has not been confirmed yet. But a bit like Scotland in that sense, we are concentrating really on trying to implement some sort of a plan, trying to see as much of the players as we possibly can.

“This period we will have at the end of the season, while not ideal for players, is absolutely fine for us and of course, it’s an opportunity to see as many players as possible.”

So far, O’Neill has stuck very closely to the core group of players that were was generally selected by his predecessor, Giovanni Trapattoni, and he has sought to avoid getting drawn into discussions about what players he might like to add to the panel.

There has been strong speculation about a number of English-born players including Luke Chambers and David McGoldrick, both of Ipswich, getting call-ups; Stephen Ireland being brought back and younger players like Seán Murray of Watford getting a chance to impress although on the latter front O’Neill has sounded quite sceptical about the potential of the next generation.

“It is a real concern, absolutely,” he said when naming his squad for the recent Serbia game. “I thought, ‘Well there must be five, six, seven young lads playing who will maybe break through’ and that may be the case but at this minute I haven’t spotted it.

“Maybe I’m in the wrong place. I’ve got other people out looking but I haven’t seen it at the minute.

‘Eligibility rule’
“There are obviously one or two exceptions who at this moment have not, through the eligibility rule, declared themselves that they want to play for Ireland but outside that, no, I haven’t seen it.”

O’Neill admitted that young Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford, is somebody who has impressed him but despite having represented Ireland previously at underage level, he, like the Keane brothers, Will and Michael, at Manchester United, seems increasingly likely to play for England at senior level if the opportunity arises.

In the meantime, O’Neill says that the games he has seen so far have provided him and his assistant, Roy Keane, with plenty to mull over between now and the summer.

“We have had three games – the two games in November-time were in quick succession, at home to Latvia, which we would expect to win anyway and we did; the draw in Poland was fine, and although for long periods against Serbia, I thought we played very well and possibly could have won the game, we lost the match. We have got plenty to discuss.”

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