The winger made his feelings known when he tweeted a picture of his winning goal for Ireland against Wales in Cardiff with the caption “funny old game” after he’d been an unused sub for Tony Pulis’s side in their 1-0 defeat to Southampton.
“I think if someone’s not playing regularly, I’d be really disappointed if he wasn’t frustrated, of course,” said his international manager.
“Does him not playing games really bother me? Well, he’s the fittest player I’ve seen since, in my time, maybe Craig Johnston. (The Australian who played for Liverpool).
“James is very fit, looks after himself brilliantly, so I’ve no bones with that. Having said that, I thought in the last 15 minutes of the game against Wales, he was on his knees. And if he was tired, I can imagine what the rest of the players were feeling at that time.”
And he’s proved it too. He’s been like the Jon Walters of the Euros.”
Walters wasn’t named in O’Neill’s preliminary squad for the play-offs against Denmark but the manager revealed that there is a chance that, with the Burnley man apparently recovering well from his knee injury, he could yet come back into the picture for either or both of the two games.
And with David Meyler suspended for the first leg, the return to club action of James McCarthy has also been welcomed by O’Neill.
“Meyler, the way he’s played for us in the recent games, he would be hard to replace, I must admit,” said the manager, “but James coming back, if he doesn’t pick up an injury between now and then, is a plus for us.”
In a lighter moment yesterday, O’Neill confirmed that he once rented flat space to his then Norwich team-mate and now manager of Denmark, Age Hareide.
“Yeah, but he didn’t pay for it,” the Derryman quipped. “Honestly, he is a genuinely good lad.”
Finally, O’Neill, appeared to play down the fact his agreement to remain as manager for Euro 2020 has not been formally signed. He also indicated he expects Roy Keane will stay on too.
“We have agreement with John (Delaney), nothing has been signed up, it was the same as the last time (pre-Euro finals),” he commented.
“I’m not his keeper but I’m sure he would like to stay around.”
Randolph, Westwood, Elliot, Doyle, Christie, Doherty, McShane, Keogh, Duffy, Clark, O’Shea, Kevin Long, Ward, McGeady, Horgan, Browne, Whelan, Hourihane, Arter, McCarthy, Brady, Hendrick, O’Kane, Meyler, Hoolahan, O’Dowda, Hayes, McClean, Long, Murphy, McGoldrick, Maguire, Hogan, O’Brien.