Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan primed for national service
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has no fears about placing his trust in Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan for upcoming 2016 European Championship qualifiers against Gibraltar and World Cup winners Germany.
Hoolahan's omission for the opening qualifying win in Georgia earlier this month sparked criticism in certain quarters, after the 32-year-old had impressed during a summer tour of America and the friendly win over Oman prior to travelling to Eastern Europe.
The Dubliner is in O'Neill's provisional squad for next month's double header, and Hoolahan is very much part of the Irish manager's battleplan.
'Absolutely,' he said. 'Criticism is part of life. My point is that we won the match. Winning is the most important thing and performances will improve. I'm delighted we got some points on the board.
'By the time we've played Scotland in November, we'll have played three away games and one home match. We'll still have some matches at home that are going to be really, really important.
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'But one thing I didn't want was to be out of the competition before we were in it. So the win against Georgia was fantastic.
'If we could be going into the Germany game with six points and confidence behind us, that would be terrific. And then go as positively as we can in that game. And why not? I think we can cause Germany problems.'
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O'Neill is taking nothing for granted against the expected group whipping boys Gibraltar, who lost 7-0 to Poland in their opening fixture. Ireland's dautning trip to Germany comes three days later on October 14.
'The first thing in my mind as a manager is that I need to win the game,' he said. 'I need some players on the field who have the ability to open up defences, particularly here at home. Let's say Gibraltar go defensive, then I'd like to try to do that. It's important for us to win. I really must say this — you might say 'it's only Gibraltar' but, for me, I have to really focus on that game before (Germany). Take your eye off that and you find yourself in a bit of trouble.
'We should beat Gibraltar, we should be able to win the game, but we need to be able to open them up so we need some creative players and I will have a look at other positions.'