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In-form McGeady may have to settle for a place on Ireland's bench

Martin O’Neill was remaining characteristically tight-lipped during today’s pre-match press conference.

McGeady is enjoying life at Preston North End right now.
McGeady is enjoying life at Preston North End right now.
Image: EMPICS Sport

AIDEN MCGEADY IS arguably Ireland’s most in-form player right now.

After an uninspiring spell at Everton, the 30-year-old winger has been playing consistently-well since making a loan move to Preston North End.

With five goals and eight assists in 26 league appearances this season, McGeady was named Championship Player of the Month for February.

Ireland have been stripped of their main creative outlet for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against Wales, as the injured Wes Hoolahan is one of nine players unavailable to Martin O’Neill.

With that in mind, the Ireland manager was asked about the former Celtic man’s importance to the team but he wasn’t giving anything away in relation to the starting line-up he plans to name an hour before kick-off.

“It’s good that Aiden is in good form at the moment and playing very well for Preston,” said O’Neill. “Because of the games he’s getting on a regular basis, he looks much fitter.

“All of those things will be important at some stage or another during the course of the game.”

Aiden McGeady The Ireland team, including McGeady training, this week. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Despite the large number of injuries, Ireland still have options in attack and McGeady is potentially battling it out with the likes of James McClean, Jon Walters, Shane Long, Jeff Hendrick and Daryl Horgan for a starting berth.

O’Neill was then quizzed on whether he has considered playing McGeady in the ‘free role’ that Preston boss Simon Grayson often affords him.

“I’m not so sure (if there is a such thing as the free role) because even in the very best of teams, people who were supposedly playing the free role actually do an awful lot of work,” he replied.

That is something that Aiden is trying to learn but if he’s capable of going past players then that has got to be a benefit for us, and he is certainly capable of doing that.

“All he has got to do is go and look at some of the form he showed in the early stages of the Euro 2016 qualification. In that sort of form, he’s devastating.”

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Ben Blake

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