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Dublin: 16 °C Thursday 23 May, 2019
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Martin O'Neill wants to put the 'debacle' of 1995 to rest when England visit on Sunday

The Ireland manager was speaking ahead of a busy two weeks for his side.

Hull's Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn will hope to get over the disappointment of relegation.
Hull's Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn will hope to get over the disappointment of relegation.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL AND his squad convened in Malahide this afternoon but with two weeks in camp between now and the crucial Euro 2016 Qualifier against Scotland, the Ireland manager insists striking the right balance will be key.

There were a host of notable absentees from today’s light training session at Gannon Park with Robbie Keane, Aiden McGeady and Shane Long among others yet to arrive after a brief break.

O’Neill expects to have a full deck by Tuesday evening but with the players arriving off the back of differing schedules, he expects this week will be about building up fitness and match sharpness.

“There are a couple of players who’s season just ended and some of them have gone away on holiday,” O’Neill said. “It’s just a matter of winding down a little to wind back up.

“Everybody seems to be okay but it’s about monitoring that, particularly those who play in the Championship as their season finished a month ago. It’s about getting a bit of work into them between now and the weekend.”

As well as managing the fitness levels of the players, O’Neill recognises the need to ensure each of the squad are in the right frame of mind after an exacting season at club level.

Martin O'Neill O'Neill is hoping he can assess his full squad on Tuesday Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Paul McShane sat out today’s session after picking up a nasty gash in Hull City’s final Premier League game of the season against Manchester United.

“There will be some disappointment with the way the season ended,” O’Neill added. “For the Hull players, that would have been a real downer but even those that didn’t make the playoffs – the Derby lads will be particularly disappointed.

“But that’s club level and it’s about getting them back up for it now.”

Before the much-anticipated friendly against England on Sunday, the Boys in Green will face Northern Ireland in a behind closed doors game on Thursday and both fixtures, despite bragging rights being on the line, will serve one purpose.

“It’s a great game for us to be involved in,” O’Neill said of the clash with The Three Lions. “It’s twenty years since that last debacle and I call it that because that’s exactly what it was.

John O'Shea John O'Shea has been working on his coaching badges since the season ended Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“It’s a big game for us and there’s historic interest but it will be great preparation. No matter how well they look after themselves, fitness levels will drop a little when you don’t play so it’s an opportunity for us to prepare for Scotland which of course is the ultimate.”

O’Neill will hope preparations can begin to intensify over the next two days with the rest of the panel - including Keane, Long, McGeady, Jon Walters, Marc Wilson, Stephen Ward and Wes Hoolahan – set to meet-up in the next 24 hours.

The two friendlies are first on the horizon but that make-or-break meeting with Gordon Strachan’s Scots a week on Saturday is at the forefront of the agenda.

‘Let’s hope they’re more well behaved than last time and we’re talking about the football’

‘There might be the odd incident & because it’s Ireland v England, it’ll get blown out of proportion’

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Ryan Bailey

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