It’s naturally unusual for an international manager to come up against the country he used to represent, especially when O’Neill was captain of the side that made waves at the 1982 World Cup. Throw in the political angle, the tension arising from the recruitment of players, and the likelihood of a boisterous away support, and this will be a different type of friendly match. James McClean’s presence will make sure of that. But for the home manager, the possible cause for strife here is not so much related to the identity of the opponents. Rather, it’s their profile and what that says about a use of resources. Throughout a difficult year, O’Neill has consistently referenced the poor hand he is working with relative to opponents. He is envious of opposing managers able to call on talents such as Christian Eriksen and Gareth Bale, when he is reliant on players drawn from the Championship. Excuse When it comes to Northern Ireland, there is no such excuse available. Michael O’Neill is working off a smaller pool of players. He has three current Premier League operators in this squad, whereas the Republic have nine although Michael Obafemi and Caoimhin Kelleher are rookies. Still,… Read full this story
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