Confidence key for both Ireland and Scotland in Glasgow qualifier, says O’Neill
Manager hails Germany result and teases O’Shea for ‘appalling’ goalscoring record
Martin O’Neill during the game in Gelsenkirchen: “The exhilaration is something for us to carry that into that [Scotland] game.” Photograph: Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images
Martin O’Neill says that he will weigh up during the next week or two how to approach Ireland’s next European Championship qualifying game next month in Glasgow, where a victory would keep Ireland firmly in contention for a top-two finish.
With Germany having made their worst start to a tournament qualifying campaign, Ireland trail the Poles at the top of the table on the basis of goals scored and confidence among O’Neill’s players is will be high in the wake of the Gelsenkirchen result.
In 2012, second-placed teams had an average of 20 points and those in third 16. With Ireland currently on seven, the team is in a strong position in advance of games against the teams that were expected to be the main rivals for the second automatic and play-off places.
O’Neill, in any case, knows that a win at Celtic Park would severely dent the challenge of Scotland, who were a little unlucky not to get something in Germany themselves last month. The question for the manager is how ambitious he should be against a side that has generally shown huge improvement under Gordon Strachan and which did well on Tuesday to draw in Warsaw.
“I’ll take a wee bit of time to think about it,” said O’Neill. “Obviously I’ll watch the Scotland-Poland game but Scotland are on a good run at the moment, they really are, they’re playing with plenty of confidence.
“Gordon’s been involved with them for a couple of seasons and he has them playing well. I don’t know what their reaction to us getting the late goal would have been but it keeps our momentum going, although I think that we will face a different set of circumstances there.
“The exhilaration is something for us to carry that into that game, which is important for us to try and keep that confidence level high. That’s vitally important; we need that and the spirit we’ve shown.
“So keeping that spirit going is really important for us. We’ve got one or two players too who can do a wee bit for us and it’s important for them to be fit. You never know, James McCarthy and Séamus [Coleman] might be fit in a month’s time, I don’t know.”
If not, he suggests, he would be happy enough to stick with David Meyler at right back: “He’s done fine for us,” he said.
John O’Shea, of course, did pretty well himself on Tuesday although O’Neill seemed bemused that his late equaliser against Germany was only his third senior international goal.
“His third goal, eh, third goal, third goal,” he said with a grin. “That’s pretty appalling for a centre-half . . . with the number of time he comes up for a set-piece, that’s pretty appalling. I must tell him that. I saw one the goals that he did score; was it against Kazakhstan where I think Richard Dunne’s got the header down? I could have put that one in.
“Nah,” he added, “it was really delightful; it worked out brilliant for him.”