We have things to improve on, says realistic Martin O’Neill

A win, a 10th home game without defeat, and a handful of debuts.

We have things to improve on, says realistic Martin O’Neill

You take whatever positives you can get on a night as forgettable as that. Nobody expects fireworks from a friendly shoehorned into the last few laps of the club season, and Martin O’Neill certainly wasn’t gushing in his review.

“We lacked a bit of cohesion, but it is nice to keep the momentum going against a very fine Swiss side that kept possession well,” he said. “There are things we can improve. I just thought we could have a wee bit more confidence in ourselves when in possession of the ball.”

Positives and negatives.

The most obvious negative was the injury to Kevin Doyle midway through an opening half in which, until then, he had been the best player. Early updates suggested a deep gash to his left leg and a quick transfer to hospital. Not nice, but better than a leg break or ligament damage.

O’Neill later confirmed that diagnosis and added that the player, who tweeted a horrific picture of the injury around the same time, was already preparing to go under anaesthetic. Bottom line? Let’s just say he wasn’t ruled out of the Euros.

“I thought he started well,” said O’Neill. “He was trying to hold the ball up for us. He was doing that regularly a few seasons ago at Reading and at times at Wolves and he looked like he was getting back into to the swing of things. He will miss Tuesday, but we will see after that.”

Doyle aside, Shane Duffy was probably the main Irish player of note. The Blackburn centre-back set up Ciaran Clark for the goal and he held a solid line alongside the Aston Villa man at the heart of the defence on what was only his second cap.

The manager agreed.

“One or two players played very well,” he explained. “The two centre backs did very well indeed. I know Ciaran very well. He captained the youth team at Aston Villa when I was there and he did very well in the last two qualification games for us.

“Shane did very well. I took him to America with us a few years ago and he showed a bit of promise. Now he is playing regularly with Blackburn with a bit more confidence and he did very well tonight.”

“Frustrating” was the word O’Neill used, and Daryl Murphy would no doubt agree given he succumbed to a tight calf strain after appearing off the bench. Jonathan Walters, meanwhile, has rejoined the squad ahead of the Slovakia game after a slight hamstring injury.

There was mention of Robbie Keane as well. O’Neill, while stressing that he didn’t wish to ‘scaremonger’, revealed that the LA Galaxy man was “a wee bit concerned” about the knee injury that kept him out last night and which will again sideline him on Tuesday.

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