Martin O’Neill says Lille spirit needed to beat Wales
James McCarthy remains on course to feature, although that could be from the bench
David Meyler, Jeff Hendrick, John O’Shea, James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman arrive for training at Abbotstown on Thursday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Martin O’Neill says that it is likely to take an Irish performance on a par with Lille and the win over Italy if his side is to take three points from Friday night’s World Cup qualifier against Wales in Lansdowne Road.
“I think that we will have to produce a performance like that tomorrow evening,” he said at his pre-match press conference this afternoon. “I think the players are ready for it, though. It’s not a distant memory. It is in the past but it’s not a distant memory and I think that some of the players who performed that evening can call upon that experience again and go for it.
“The players are confident, absolutely. Ten points on the board; three of those games have been away from home but there’s a distance to go. We’ll only be half way through the campaign at the end of this game so I think if you asked the players, or any of the coaching staff from any of the teams, they’d all say the same thing: ‘there’s still a distance to go’”.
James McCarthy remains on course to feature although O’Neill suggests he has yet to decide whether the Everton midfielder will start or not.
“James is improving, improving very quickly which is good news. He has done some work today and we will see how he is this afternoon, we’ll see how he has recovered from that but he is feeling much, much better.
“Naturally you would think about the amount of time that a player could last on the field having not having done much for a couple of weeks but in general he is a pretty fit lad.”
The manager confirmed that McCarthy’s Everton team mate, Seamus Coleman, will start with the right back set to captain the team again while he hinted strongly that Aiden McGeady can expect to be involved in some way over the course of the evening.
“It’s good that Aiden is in good form at the moment,” he said. “He’s playing very well for Preston which is great and because of the games that he is getting on a regular basis he looks much fitter which is great and all of those things will be important during the course of the game, I’m hoping.”
James McClean, he says meanwhile, is ready for the match despite having lost his friend and former Derry City team-mate Ryan McBride so tragically this week.
“James is an emotional character, he always has been. Obviously he was devastated, he knew the lad, very well, he played with him, but I think that having gone up to the wake he is fully focussed on the game tomorrow.”