Darron Gibson and Alan Judge add to O’Neill’s midfield options
With suspensions to cope with in defence and attack, Republic’s manager sees one silver lining
Darron Gibson: hasn’t featured for the Republic of Ireland since the defeat in Scotland. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty
With suspensions to cope with in both defence and attack for the first leg of the Euro 2016 play-off against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Martin O’Neill has expressed some satisfaction that in midfield, at least, his options seem to be broadening somewhat.
“I think that Darron’s been working very hard and thankfully he got some playing time,” he said. “But Darron would rock up and feel as though he’s ready to play even if hadn’t played for four years. ‘I’m ready to go’. ‘No, sorry, Darron, you’re not ready to go because you’re just not.’
“Anyway, he’s fit to play; obviously he’s waiting for his turn now at Everton but he’s fit to play and it’s just a matter of game time. But I know Darron and I know his capabilities.”
Gibson certainly featured enough over the early part of the campaign to suggest that O’Neill sees him as having something to offer. However he has not kicked a ball for Ireland since the game in Glasgow where he started and stayed on the pitch for 69 minutes despite generally struggling.
Alan Judge is a very different case with the Dublin-born Brentford midfielder aiming to establish himself as a viable option, most obviously to Wes Hoolahan whose role Judge’s club manager, Carsley, recently said the 26-year-old could slip into for Ireland.
“He’s played very well in games that I’ve seen,” acknowledged O’Neill.
“I know he did really fine last year. Then they (Brentford) had a change of manager this season but all the upheaval didn’t seem to affect him. He still did well.
“I was concerned about bringing someone in who didn’t have that sort of experience, that level coming into such important games. But honestly, he’s been around the training ground and he’s been a breath of fresh air.
“If an opportunity did come, he’s had that experience now; he’s had a few days training with the squad and so, if it came to it, I’d have less concern about putting him in now than I might have done a few weeks ago.”