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'Everyone's in contention' - Competition for places hots up as Ireland depart for Germany

It’s off to Gelsenkirchen for a clash with Joachim Löw’s team, who will be licking their wounds after last night’s defeat to Poland.

O'Neill was pleased with how Ireland dictated play last night.
O'Neill was pleased with how Ireland dictated play last night.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL HAS a few selection headaches after last night’s 7-0 win over Gibraltar.

The Ireland manager made five changes to the team which narrowly claimed victory over Georgia for their first home match of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with Wes Hoolahan, Darron Gibson, Jeff Hendrick, James McClean and Wes Hoolahan all coming into the side.

McClean (2) and Hoolahan were both on the scoresheet with hat-trick hero Robbie Keane while Hendrick, Gibson and Meyler all staked claims for a place in Tuesday’s qualifier away to Germany.

There is an argument for utilising Shane Long’s pace and ability to run the channels by playing him as a lone frontman on Tuesday, but O’Neill is keeping his cards close to his chest.

“There were a number of players that weren’t involved who played exceptionally well in Georgia,” O’Neill said last night. “I can name three at this minute. Stephen Quinn played very, very well, Glenn Whelan played excellently in Georgia and to me Jon Walters was excellent as well.

Those three didn’t play. I didn’t mention the team beforehand so you’ll have to speak to them but everybody is in contention for Tuesday.”

Last night’s shock win for Poland means goal difference separates them and Ireland, both on six points, at the top of Group D with Scotland and Germany three points back.

The world champions are without several key players and will be aiming to bounce back from their first ever defeat to the Poles but O’Neill has no doubt that his players will be up for the game after suffering two heavy losses to the Germans in recent years.

“It sounds strange because we won the game 7-0 but I really want to be going on the flight with the six points intact, which we have now,” he added.

“It has given them good confidence, we’ve scored some goals here tonight and they’re feeling pretty decent.

“Tuesday night is a totally different game of course but we will not have a problem getting up for it.”

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Ben Blake

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