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'There's not a great deal between them' - O'Neill admits to goalkeeper dilemma
Darren Randolph and Keiren Westwood each played 45 minutes of Ireland’s clash with Uruguay.

IRELAND BOSS MARTIN O’Neill says there is not much separating goalkeepers Keiren Westwood and Darren Randolph ahead of next week’s vital World Cup qualifier against Austria.

Randolph has had a difficult time at Premier League level with West Ham recently, losing his place in the starting XI, whereas Westwood has thrived in the Championship for Sheffield Wednesday.

And tonight, both played 45 minutes, with the Hammers stopper partially at fault for the first goal, coming and failing to claim the set-piece that Atletico Madrid star José Giménez headed into the empty net.

The Owls goalkeeper, by contrast, had a relatively solid evening after being introduced for the second half, saving well to prevent Giménez from heading home a second.

Randolph has been Ireland’s number one since replacing the injured Shay Given during the famous 1-0 win over Germany in a Euro 2016 qualifier at the Aviva Stadium, but whether he has done enough to retain his spot for the upcoming Austria game after a nervy display tonight remains to be seen.

Asked at the post-match press conference whether his thinking had changed in relation to the goalkeeping situation, O’Neill said: “I’ve got a lot of time for both goalkeepers. From the moment that Darren’s come in as a sub against Germany, he hasn’t done a great deal wrong.

“Westwood has been really patient waiting in the wings. I know Keiren well myself — a very talented goalkeeper. He made a really good save today.

And it is genuinely nice to have two very good goalkeepers and there’s not a great deal between them.”

O’Neill was also full of praise for right-back Cyrus Christie. The Derby man was one of Ireland’s few bright spots in the defeat to Mexico on Thursday night, while he capped an excellent display this evening with a goal.

While Everton’s Seamus Coleman remains a big loss as he continues to recover from a double leg fracture, Christie has proved a more-than-capable deputy thus far.

“There’s obviously big shoes to fill and Cyrus has always done well for us. In many aspects, he’s unlucky that someone as brilliant as Seamus is in front of him.

But he took himself off as well too to get physically fit before we even met up in Cork. Credit to him, he’s desperate to do well. I thought he was excellent today. And he was one of our better lights in the game against Mexico.”

Glenn Whelan, Jeff Hendrick and Harry Arter all suffered what appear to be minor injuries this evening, and O’Neill suggested afterwards that the trio should be available for next week’s pivotal clash with Austria.

In terms of the overall performance the Irish boss said he was content but not overly enthused by tonight’s outcome.

We had a stronger, more experienced side in terms of caps. But I was far from downbeat against Mexico, who played very well against us in the game (on Thursday).

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“We had Championship players who had not played for a number of weeks. There was a different system — all those kind of things were working against us.

As preparation for the (Austria) game, it’s absolutely fantastic.

“So if I’m not going overboard about Mexico defeat, I’m not wallowing in this. It’s nice to win against Uruguay, but everything is just preparation for the game on Sunday (against Austria)

“It gets us a confidence booster in the end if nothing else.”

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