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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

Ireland boss open to Maguire and Sheridan call-ups but wants players 'to feel they've earned it'

Martin O’Neill was in Dublin today to speak about the upcoming international matches.

Cork City striker Sean Maguire.
Cork City striker Sean Maguire.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL SAYS he would like to make it a little more difficult for players to earn international caps.

Next up for the Boys in Green are two friendly games — against Mexico in New Jersey on 1 June before a meeting with Uruguay in Dublin three days later.

According to the Ireland boss, it will give those whose club seasons have finished the opportunity to regain match sharpness ahead of the vital World Cup qualifier against Austria at the Aviva Stadium on 11 June.

Asked if he was thinking of also using the fixtures to try out untested players, O’Neill revealed that it is unlikely.

“We had the opportunity to play some players — who have been in and around the squad but haven’t really participated that much – after the Wales game,” he said, speaking at the launch of 2017 FAI Summer Soccer Schools today.

“I’m not so sure that it’s an ideal time for trying out very young players who have never been involved in the squad for the simple reason that it’s a lead-up to the World Cup qualifying game, which is most important.

The season ends this weekend for quite a number of players I will be choosing for these matches and therefore there is going to be a long time beforehand. So that’s the reason we organised the game against Uruguay.

“Then there was an opportunity to play against Mexico in the US and I think it’s ideal for those Championship players who are not involved in play-offs — and who’ve been in and around the scene — to participate in those games.”

The squad will gather in the week beginning 22 May for a couple of days of intensive training before heading Stateside. O’Neill went to speak about wanting players who get the chance to line out for Ireland to feel like they’ve worked hard to do so.

“I like to see young players coming through but I like to feel that they have earned it,” he said.

“I just don’t want to be handing things out to people who think that because they picked up a cap along the way they’ve made the grade. I’d like to make it slightly more difficult.”

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He went on: “Overall, that’s the thought but if there’s a player who is outstanding and really making an impact at league level, then why shouldn’t he get an opportunity?”

O'Neill Schools O'Neill with Emma Sherrard, Charlie Dunwoody and Brayden Adeboye at the Aviva Stadium today. Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

Cork City’s Sean Maguire has been in terrific form again this season and there have been calls to include the striker in Ireland’s squad.

“I wouldn’t start mentioning names here but of course I would consider it,” was O’Neill’s response when quizzed about Maguire. “I have plucked players from the League of Ireland so I’m not averse to that at all.

“I’ll have a look at it, the young lad has done very well. I saw quite a few games last season, not so much this season I must admit, but he’s doing well and it’s pretty easy for me to get the games now.

Similarly, Cillian Sheridan has scored five goals and created three assists in his first eight matches for Polish league leaders Jagiellonia Białystok. Asked if he has been keeping a close eye on the Cavan man, O’Neill replied:

“Absolutely, very much so. I’ve haven’t been able to get out to watch him live but I’ve had the games and he has made a bit of an impact, which is always encouraging.”

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Ben Blake

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