Hampden Park

Next Game

Scotland v N Ireland

Wednesday, 25 March 2015, 19:45

International Match

Last Game

Romania 2 - 0 N Ireland

Friday, 14 November 2014, 19:45

European Qualifiers Group F

O'Neill reveals NI concerns

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill wishes it was harder for young players to break into his squad as he prepares for Friday's friendly with Uruguay.

Last Updated: 29/05/14 at 18:36 Post Comment

Michael O'Neill: Has limited selection options

Michael O'Neill: Has limited selection options

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

A spate of injuries has forced O'Neill to name a youthful group, including five uncapped players, for the upcoming match against England's World Cup opponents and next week's trip to Chile.

Among the new faces in the squad are 18-year-old Fulham defender Liam Donnelly, 19-year-old Liverpool full-back Ryan McLaughlin and Doncaster's 20-year-old centre-back Luke McCullough.

The trio have little first-team experience, hardly the correct preparation for international football, but O'Neill admits he has limited selection options.

"If I'm honest I wish it was harder for them to get to this level," he said.

"It would benefit them more if it was more difficult to get to this level. They're probably getting their chance a little bit easier than they should do.

"But of course it's exciting to have the chance of working with them.

"The ones who are here are in a pool of players where the next generation of international players will come from. The only ones outside that pool will be through eligibility and they're not coming out the woodwork.

"So while they're very young they're not that far from being involved. As we go into the first qualifier against Hungary in September it's not beyond the realms of possibility that some of these younger players will be needed."

Early in his reign, a youthful line-up suffered a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Holland and O'Neill is keen to avoid a repeat in Montevideo.

"You never want that to happen, but it's out of my control in a sense, the reality is Holland were brilliant against us that night," he said.

"It's about getting the balance right. The younger ones might come in without too much fear but you have to be fair to them.

"You don't want to put them in when it's too much for them and they dread coming in to play again.

"But we're not in a position really to protect the players from that, we have to put them in.

"Whoever plays can only benefit from it. I wouldn't expect to see players destroyed by this experience."

The hosts will be missing injured Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, which is a relief to the Northern Ireland camp.

"Uruguay haven't had a fantastic two years of results," said O'Neill.

"They finished fifth in World Cup qualifying and won a play-off with Jordan.

"They scored 25 and conceded 25, and they're heavily dependent on a front two, Cavani and Suarez, who are on a par with anything in the world.

"Suarez is not playing, which is a great bonus from our point of view, and I don't think there'll be any real surprises - they're not a team that really forces the issue."

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

S

o Brendan is full of sh!t, who'd have thought it eh?

fatbob30
Carroll accuses Rodgers

P

resumably, you wanted to keep the version of Downing that was never seen at Anfield. The one that another manager has managed to re-create. The one you passed over.

badwolf
Rodgers: I wanted to keep Downing

T

he uber commercialisation of the 90s has led to the point where this overly familar, try hard, jolly hockey sticks type fronts up a major football match on a weekly basis. Unlike the great presenters of yesteryear, I doubt he would even recognise the scent of Brut.

mufc phil
Football On TV: Jake Humphrey

Footer 365

Nemanja Matic says Chelsea happy to maintain their five-point Premier League lead

Midfielder Nemanja Matic was happy to take a point after Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Manchester City.

Roberto Martinez delighted with 'immense' Everton's 1-0 win at Crystal Palace

Roberto Martinez believes his side can now reach their true potential after ending their winless run at Crystal Palace.

Premier League: Chelsea maintain five-point lead after 1-1 draw with Manchester City

Chelsea remain five points clear at the top of the Premier League after a 1-1 draw with second-placed Manchester City.

Mail Box

'Costa Is A Bad Man. Suarez Is Not'

That's quite some claim. And yes, unfortunately we are still talking about this. We also have mails on Ronaldinho, possible replacements for Yaya Toure and more...

Red Mist Better Than Calculated Costa?

Hmmm. We're not sure about this argument - one Mailbox says Luis Suarez is easier to forgive because he is a little loco. We also have mails on Studge and more...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company