This is an opportunity for some players to come in, set down a marker and say I deserve to be in the squad - Martin O'Neill

Thu, Mar 08 2018

Martin O'Neill was at the Aviva Stadium today for his latest squad announcement. Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick

Martin O’Neill expects to take 25 players from his 30-man provisional squad to Turkey, calling it a chance for players to set down a marker ahead of the start of the new Uefa Nations League later this year.

This will be the first of a scheduled 9 games for Ireland in 2018, as they also take on United States, France, Poland and Northern Ireland in friendlies before playing Denmark and Wales twice each in the Nations League.

“The Nations League is competitive football. This (Turkey game) is an opportunity for some players to come in, set down a marker and say I deserve to be in the squad.

“The games are difficult, we have France away, they’ll be heading out to the World Cup. USA at home too.

“I believe the matches are competitive, if they have a bearing on us qualifying for Euros, we should go strong, they are important,” O’Neill said.

Five players have received first time call ups to O’Neill’s provisional squad, including Manchester United goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara.

O’Hara is one of four goalkeepers named in the squad, along with Colin Doyle, Keiran Westwood and Rob Elliot and speaking to the media in the Aviva Stadium on Thursday afternoon, O’Neill explained the current goalkeeper situation.

“Darren (Randolph) was always being left out, Keiran (Westwood) and Rob have had injuries, Keiran is improving, Rob has been around the squad.

“O’Hara has a chance to come in and train with us for a few days. Hopefully Darren (Randolph) comes back in the summer,” O’Neill said.

Several familiar names, such as Stephen Ward, Richard Keogh and Aiden McGeady, have also not been named in the squad.

He admitted that while some older players may decide to retire, others are overcoming injuries, preferring to allow them to get regular playing time with their club sides.

“Stephen Ward is just back in his club side after injury, let him get back on with that, same with Keogh.”

With the recent retirement of Daryl Murphy, and Jonathan Walters injured, Scott Hogan and Sean Maguire have both been named alongside Shane Long as O’Neill’s options up front.

“It’s a big opportunity for Hogan and Maguire. They will consider this an opportunity too.

“Enda Stevens, it’s opportunity for him, Williams too. We’ve 30 players, we’ll probably take 25 with us.”

With just one outfield player, Shane Long, over the age of 30, O’Neill also admitted that this will be a chance for certain players, either young or with a limited number of caps, to be able to kick on and stake their claim for a position in the team when the competitive games come along.

“It’s a chance for the likes of Kevin Long to kick on. There are a number of players who haven’t had much playing time.

“Pearce was a regular member of Derby but not getting much time now, same with Arter. I’ve no problems with that though,” O’Neill explained.

Republic of Ireland 30-man provisional squad vs Turkey:

Goalkeepers: Rob Elliot (Newcastle United); Colin Doyle (Bradford City), Kieran O'Hara (Manchester United), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday).

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Declan Rice (West Ham), John Egan (Brentford), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long (Burnley), Alex Pearce (Derby County), Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams (both Blackburn Rovers), Greg Cunningham (Preston North End), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United).

Midfielders: Alan Judge (Brentford), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), David Meyler (Hull City), Eunan O'Kane (Leeds United), Liam Kelly (Reading), Alan Browne, Daryl Horgan (both Preston North End), James McClean (West Brom).

Forwards: Shane Long (Southampton), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Sean Maguire (Preston North End).