O'Neill: I want Ireland players involved in major games

The Boys in Green boss believes that Champions League football would be hugely beneficial for the development of his players
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill hopes that his young international players can get the opportunity to play in the Champions League in order to help their development.

O'Neill believes that regular games at the highest level prepares players better for the rigours of international football, and can only be beneficial for his squad members.

"I think you would like, if at all possible, for the majority of your players to be playing major football, big, big football," the 62-year-old told the Irish Examiner.

"Not everybody can play in the Champions League. Or if you were choosing from the Premier League it would be great. But in relation to ourselves, or Northern Ireland for instance, it will always be the way that you won’t have a squad of 23 players, unless you’re unbelievably lucky at the time, all playing in the Premier League.

"And you won’t have that many players playing Champions League. With a little bit of luck for one or two younger players, hopefully it will happen."

O'Neill played at the highest club level for Nottingham Forest, helping the East Midlands outfit lift the European Cup trophy in 1979 and 1980, as well as the European Super Cup in 1979. The former midfielder believes that the more big games a player competes in, the more prepared they will be for other big games.

"Will it prepare you better? I think the more big occasion games you play, I think the less intimidating grounds and venues and opposition can be to you," O'Neill added. "I felt that anyway with Nottingham Forest when I was a player.

"Once I started playing not only in the big league, but actually winning big matches and going into the European football, then I felt that probably helped me when I was playing for Northern Ireland."