O'Neill turns attentions to Poland after defeat of Latvia

Ireland boss keen to play down significance of good start against Latvia as he contemplates changes ahead of the match in Poznan
Martin O’Neill praised his players’ efforts after the 3-0 friendly win against Latvia on Friday night but insists that Ireland must not get carried away as Poland on Tuesday will provide a much tougher challenge for the Boys in Green.

The Irish boss on Saturday morning confirmed that he would be changing the team around for the game in Poznan as he looks to give an opportunity to the other players in the squad, with perhaps the exception of Rob Elliot who is unlikely to feature in goal with David Forde and Keiren Westwood ahead of him in the pecking order.

O’Neill was keen to move on quickly to the next game and not dwell too long on the victory over Latvia, as any other result would have been disappointing to say the least.

“We’ve won the match," he said. "It’s a game that we were expected to win and we have won well.”

“The players are in fine spirits. They have been since Monday evening. It’s just a matter of trying to keep that going until Tuesday night,” he said at Ireland's training ground in Malahide. 

The Derry man said that his first foray into international football went brilliantly and is thoroughly enjoying it so far, although he explained that he still has a lot to experience as an international manager.

“I think that the whole thing will hit just after we get back from Poland. Once we get back on the Wednesday or Thursday morning and you find out that you probably won’t see these players for another two or three months,” said O’Neill. “I think that will be the bit that I’ll probably find most strange.”

The fire is most certainly still burning in Martin O’Neill’s heart, who waved away questions that his passion for the game has diminished over the years. O’Neill spoke of his love and “raw enthusiasm for the game.”

“I think those things never change. I think that the minute that they do change, that’s when you need to reassess things,” said the Ireland boss who believes that he has always harboured a great love for the game from a young age.

“I think that hunger is there from starting out as a player, as an 18-year-old.”