DUBLIN (Reuters) - Republic of Ireland boss Martin O‘Neill wants a morale-boosting victory over Netherlands in Dublin on Friday as he settles on his squad for Euro 2016, which he will announce next week.
“What I would like is to try and play well, to be able to use the ball well if we can, and even though it’s a friendly game I’d like to win the game if we can to keep spirits high,” he told reporters after a training session at FAI headquarters in Dublin.
With Everton midfielder James McCarthy struggling with a groin injury and a number of other players carrying knocks, O‘Neill has delayed naming his final squad until the UEFA deadline of May 31.
McCarthy has been almost ever-present under O‘Neill and the manager is hoping the 25-year-old will be fit for Ireland’s final friendly against Belarus in Cork on Tuesday.
”James McCarthy has done a little bit of training on his own and effectively he wouldn’t be playing tomorrow. He might be fit for Tuesday. If he doesn’t play Tuesday, it might be a bit of a concern.
“He has played a lot of games for Everton. If it’s a niggling injury that needs a few extra days to get over it, so be it.”
There are also doubts over the fitness of goalkeeper Shay Given, defender Ciaran Clarke and some other members of the squad. Winger Aiden McGeady has had little playing time on loan at Sheffiled Wednesday from Everton.
Despite the injury worries and limited playing time for some players, O‘Neill is relishing the prospect of a clash against a the Dutch side who failed to qualify for Euro 2016.
“I think the opposition will be very tough,” he said. “They will stretch us and cause us problems and our job will be to cause them problems if we can when we have the ball.”
The Irish kick off their Euro 2016 Group E campaign against Sweden in Paris on June 13 before going on to meet Belgium and Italy.
Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Larry King