Shane Long 'optimistic' he will be fit for play-offs, says O'Neill

Shane Long 'optimistic' he will be fit for play-offs, says O'Neill

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is hopeful his side will not be restricted by injuries for next month's Euro 2016 play-off against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Shane Long 'optimistic' he will be fit for play-offs, says O'Neill

Today's draw pitched the Irish against the third-placed side from Group B, from which Belgium and Wales qualified directly.

Ireland have met Bosnia just once before, with the Boys in Green winning 1-0 courtesy of a Shane Long header in May 2012 under previous manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

Long is currently sidelined with an ankle injury but with almost a month before the two-legged play-off, which will see Ireland play away first on Friday, November 13 with the return leg at the Aviva Stadium on Monday, November 16.

O'Neill knows there is the potential for more setbacks.

"I spoke to Shane a few days ago and he is optimistic," he told Sky Sports News.

"Like anything else, sometimes with these particular injuries you are going well for a little while, and then you have three or four or five days where the injury doesn't seem to be healing up as quickly as you would imagine, so we'll play it by ear.

"We've got obviously a few problems to negotiate, we've got a couple of suspensions (Jon Walters and John O'Shea) and who knows what might happen in the next couple of weeks with players playing at club level.

"Injuries are always a possibility but whatever we have when the time comes we will go for it. We will give it absolutely everything we've got in a bid to get to France."

Ireland were not seeded for the draw but avoided the likes of Sweden and Denmark, who will face each other in a Scandinavian derby.

And O'Neill believes they can take encouragement from the four points they earned from two matches against world champions Germany in their two qualifying group games.

"Those were terrific results for us," he said.

"The late equaliser out in Germany was fantastic considering they were just back a couple of months from winning the World Cup.

"But to follow it up in Dublin with a magnificent win has to give you great confidence and from that, because it's so recent, we should take that confidence into these two games.

"There was talk here that there wasn't a great deal of difference between the seeded and non-seeded sides, but I think that if you asked any of us coaches who were unseeded, I think we would prefer to have been seeded.

"If there's any slight advantage to be had maybe it's the second game being played in Dublin.

"That said, I think that we would need to perform out in Bosnia to make sure that second game means something and that will not be easy."

The other two play-off matches see Ukraine play Slovenia and Norway tackle Hungary.

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