Martin O'Neill will rely on Ciaran Clark to deal with fiery clubmate Mitrovic

Martin O'Neill has insisted the Republic of Ireland will not attempt to light Aleksandar Mitrovic's short fuse as they attempt to rekindle their World Cup bid against Serbia.

The 22-year-old Newcastle striker is currently serving his third three-match domestic ban on Tyneside after admitting elbowing Manuel Lanzini during the Magpies' 3-0 Premier League victory over West Ham.

However, only Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski have scored more goals than his six in the European qualifying competition to date and O'Neill has not needed to consult club-mate Ciaran Clark about him.

He said: "First of all, I think he's a very talented player. When you say he divides opinion, that certainly might be to do with some of things he does on the pitch, maybe off ball.

"But at the end of the day, he's a talented player and that talent would be my concern more than anything else.

"I think he's proved himself a really good player, but he has his moments of indiscretion. But if you're asking is it something we are going to do, to wind people up, I don't think that's in our nature.

"We'll just get on with the job and Ciaran, who knows him inside-out, hopefully, will be able to deal with that."

Ireland go into the game having slipped two points adrift of Serbia at the top of Group D as a result of their 1-1 draw in Georgia, which prompted concerted criticism back at home.

O'Neill has no issue with that - he admitted the first half in Tbilisi was as poor as his team had played in the campaign - but was quick to remind their detractors of what had gone before.

He said: "As a manager, that's my responsibility, what happens on the field, and I take that.

"After the Scotland game in November time, it was a month after we had drawn against Germany in Germany and we lost that game and it was doom and gloom; we drew with Scotland in June the following year and it was doom and gloom.

"We were the ones that went to the Euros and performed very, very well. If we'd have had another two or three of days of preparation after we had beaten Italy, we may well have turned France over. It's very possible, who knows?

"We have gone on now from this to remain unbeaten. We haven't lost a competitive game here, despite some poor 25 minutes, half-hours, even 45 minutes, as it was the other night, we remain unbeaten in the competition, so those sort of things, yes, keep you going."


Related Articles

Duff: O’Neill plays like Charlton and Jack’s a legend

Where, when and how to get to Ireland's World Cup play-off against Denmark

Let’s just go for it, Martin O’Neill urges players

Ireland must buck trend to enjoy home comforts against Denmark

More in this Section

Mass brawl and defeat adds to Everton woes

Here are the draws for next year's championships

Arobatic effort from Olivier Giroud gives Arsenal win over 10-man Red Star Belgrade

Tipperary invite Cathal Barrett back into the fold


Today's Stories

Valerie Mulcahy: Why grassroots growth must be managed properly

Draw puts Cork and Kerry on Munster final collision course

Fiona Hayes fumes over ‘belittling of the women’s game’

Obituary: Raging Bull, Jake LaMotta - the former middleweight boxing champion of the world

Lifestyle

Facing fears while terrifying punters at Cork's Nightmare Realm

Weathering the storm of 1961: We watched 30 large trees uprooted

Remembering the dead: Poignant reason behind Cork’s Zombie Walk

More From The Irish Examiner