Martin O’Neill trusts players to maintain match focus

Martin O’Neill is trusting that his players will go the extra mile in keeping themselves sharp and focused in the long post-season run-up to the friendly against England on June 7 and, more crucially, the Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland on June 13.

“That is true, absolutely,” said the manager. “I mentioned this to them this time last year when we did the long trip to America and, in fairness, almost to a man they were happy to do it.

They’ve gone to those lengths at the time to do those matches in America so (this time) I think they’ll want to be up for it — they’re pretty decent matches to be involved in so you’d want to be at your best if you could be.”

Already, some of the early finishers have availed of a break before the Irish squad convenes in Malahide on June 1.

“I was talking to Alex Pearce yesterday, had a coffee with him,” said O’Neill. “He’s already had a few days away but he’s training again. He’ll start his programme next week. Young boys now seem to want to take care of themselves more than perhaps we did. I was asking Alex does he have a (fitness) programme?

"Yes, he does, it’s kind of general in that he doesn’t have to specifically stay with it. And I think that would be the case with most. But we have told the players, if they want, that we have the facilities here. And (FAI Head of Fitness and Conditioning) Dan Horan would travel over, meet a group of them, do some work with them if they want — that’s not out of the question.

"But if the players are happy doing their own thing — they’ve got their own personal trainers as well — fine, and I have to rely on that.”

O’Neill also said that Robbie Keane had been in touch with him by text to say he will be available for selection despite missing the last six games for LA Galaxy with a groin problem.

Asked about Keane’s fitness, the Derryman said: “He’s okay, he’s all right. He’s just texted a message through to say he’s okay.”

Aberdeen’s Adam Rooney and Brentford’s Alan Judge are the new additions to a provisional 33-man squad.

Republic of Ireland squad:

David Forde (Millwall); Shay Given (Aston Villa); Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday); Darren Randolph (Birmingham City); Richard Keogh (Derby County); Marc Wilson (Stoke); Seamus Coleman (Everton); Cyrus Christie (Derby); John O’Shea (Sunderland); Alex Pearce (Reading); Paul McShane (Hull); James McCarthy (Everton) Jeff Hendrick (Derby County) Stephen Ward (Burnley); Harry Arter (Bournemouth); Glenn Whelan (Stoke); Aiden McGeady (Everton); James McClean (Wigan); Alan Judge (Brentford); Robbie Brady (Hull); Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff); Stephen Quinn (Hull); David Meyler (Hull); Wes Hoolahan (Norwich); Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy); Shane Long (Southampton); Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town); Jon Walters (Stoke City); Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids); Anthony Stokes (Celtic); David McGoldrick (Ipswich); Adam Rooney (Aberdeen); Simon Cox (Reading).


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