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Martin O'Neill lauds Sean Maguire but says Austria game has come too soon

The Irish boss watched on as the young Cork striker hit a hat-trick against Dundalk in Oriel Park last night.

Martin O'Neill (file pic).
Martin O'Neill (file pic).
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND BOSS MARTIN O’Neill has praised Cork City striker Sean Maguire on the back of his terrific recent form, but cited the player’s lack of experience at international level as the reason for his absence from the current squad.

Maguire, whose move to Championship side Preston was confirmed today, was watched by O’Neill and assistant manager Roy Keane as he scored a hat-trick in Cork City’s win over Dundalk last night.

The Ireland boss told reporters today that he was impressed by the 23-year-old striker’s performance.

I thought his movement in the penalty area was absolutely brilliant, really, really, good,” he said. “I think he has improved since the last time I saw him live, which was the Irish Cup final.

“His movement got him the two goals that I saw — I left in the 83rd minute, so I didn’t see the final goal, but he did very well.”

Asked to elaborated on why he had omitted the youngster from the squad to face Austria, O’Neill added:

Well, let me put it this way: regardless of how well he did, he’s a young lad and he’s coming back again having had a time over the water. He’s coming back and I think he wants to have a real go at it now again, and that’s great news.

“I can consider a lot of things, but at the end of it all, putting someone so young and so inexperienced into the Austria game would be a really tough ask, a really tough ask.

But in terms of people coming to train, I’ve never had a problem with that and sometimes they pick up a few things that would help them with experience, so I’d have a look at (the possibility of bringing him in).

“But in terms of someone starting a game against Austria, which is a really, really important match, with no experience, I think that would be a tough call for the player.

“He was there (in England) as a young kid, he’s now more mature. I’m seeing these things from distance, I don’t know the lad at all. I can only judge by his football and last night in the penalty area, he was really excellent.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s evening’s friendly with Uruguay, O’Neill said he would look to give some of Ireland’s Premier League players game time, after the majority of top-flight stars missed the clash against Mexico in New Jersey on Thursday.

Aside from a couple of “knocks and bruises” after the US trip, O’Neill said his players were fit and raring to go for next week’s game.

And as for Uruguay? Is he expecting a tough game tomorrow night even in the absence of their most high-profile player, Luis Suarez?

“Very much so, yes. It’s the way that we have gone about the friendly games here in the last couple of years. We have tried to choose as tough opposition as possible, and I hope that continues because we’ll learn more from that than we would do against lesser teams.”

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Paul Fennessy

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