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O'Neill pleased Doyle got his move, unsure of Long's new club role

The Ireland boss was asked about a number of his forwards at today’s press conference in Malahide.

Kevin Doyle during today's training session in Malahide.
Kevin Doyle during today's training session in Malahide.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL IS hopeful that Kevin Doyle’s transfer deadline day switch to Crystal Palace means more regular first team football for the Ireland striker.

The 30-year-old hadn’t featured for Wolves this season before sealing a short term move to the Eagles late on Monday. It is the second loan spell for Doyle this year after he helped QPR win promotion to the Premier League last season.

He is among the strikers vying for a place in Ireland’s starting line-up for the friendly with Oman tomorrow night and O’Neill would like to see him put a run of games together in the English top flight.

“I think Kevin would admit himself that this is big for him,” O’Neill said. “The move came through at the end. I think there had been a little bit of chat about it the day before but he was telling me this morning, it was really at the eleventh hour that it went through. He’s pretty well pleased with it. It gives him a chance to get up and running.

“Naturally I’m pleased for him but again, he needs to play. He and Stephen Ward have basically missed a whole summer – I know they played a few reserve games and things like that. Stephen got a move to Burnley and I think he’s feeling quite relieved about it.”

Soccer - Capital One Cup - Second Round - Millwall v Southampton - The Den Long in action for Southampton. Source: Daniel Hambury

Another Irish forward who has recently found a new club is €15m man Shane Long, who joined Southampton over the summer. Saints manager Ronald Koeman has tried the former Hull City frontman on the wing during the early stages of the season but O’Neill doesn’t see himself doing the same.

“I went to watch the game against Millwall the other evening,” he added. “I saw that he started and in the second half he moved out to a wide right-hand side position and virtually stayed there. I think that’s where he started again at the weekend when Steve Walford went to the match against West Ham.

“I don’t know whether that’s something that he will have to get used to. I have no idea really. But I’m not so sure that it has influenced my thinking at this minute because some players will have to adjust to positions.

Shane essentially wants to play centre-forward anyway and if the club have asked him to go and play in a different position, that’s up to him to adapt to that.

“I think where Shane feels most comfortable is at centre-forward. He has played a lone role at times for West Bromwich Albion and I think once or twice for Hull as well depending on the system they play. It hasn’t influence my thinking. He may end up in a position that he’s reasonably comfortable in but it’s not influencing my thinking.”

APOEL’s Cillian Sheridan will be the sole Irish representative in the group stages Champions League this season and playing in Europe’s elite club competition could help him make a return to the international fold.

“Playing Champions League football is absolutely fantastic,” responded O’Neill when asked about the Cavan native. “The type of opposition that you’re going to be playing against maybe even gives you a chance to raise your game.”

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Ben Blake

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