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Don't Pjanic! O'Neill knows Bosnia's free-kick king can hurt Ireland

Roma star has scored four goals from frees already this season.

KEEP CALM AND don’t Pjanic.

That’s Martin O’Neill’s message as Ireland prepare to face the man anointed as the best free-kick taker in the world.

Roma star Miralem Pjanic has scored from four frees already this season, including this gem in the Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen.

His dead-ball threat has led to rave reviews, including praise from former team-mate Juninho Pernambucano who said: “I’m sure of it — he is the best.”

The Bosnian maestro will be ready to exploit any opportunities in next month’s Euro 2016 play-off, and O’Neill knows that defensive discipline will be crucial.

“What you don’t want to be doing is giving away silly free-kicks around the edge of the penalty area and slightly beyond that,” the Ireland boss said yesterday.

That would go for any game but particularly when you’ve someone as dangerous as that who is pretty expert at it. I think you’re going to give yourself a bit more trouble than you would want.

“If it happens, and it’s a genuine foul, then we will have to try to deal with it.”

Bosnia can look to another of Roma’s stars, the former Manchester City ace, Edin Dzeko who scored seven goals in qualifying.

“Of course (Pjanic) is a problem but he wouldn’t be the only problem,” O’Neill continued.

“I think Dzeko if he’s fit, which he probably will be, is a top quality player playing big football as well at club level.

He’s been a brilliant player for the last four or five years.

“These players are good players so we will have to deal with it.”

Shane Long is ‘touch and go’ for Ireland’s Euro 2016 play-off

Can Wes Hoolahan start both games against Bosnia?

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Niall Kelly

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