Republic of Ireland-Latvia Preview: O'Neill & Keane set for Boys in Green bow

The former Aston Villa and Sunderland manager was appointed on November 5, naming Roy Keane as his assistant, and faces his first international opponent on Friday

Martin O'Neill takes charge of his first international game when Republic of Ireland face Latvia in Dublin on Friday.

The ex-Sunderland and Leicester City boss was appointed as successor to Giovanni Trapattoni last week and named former Republic captain Roy Keane as his assistant.

O'Neill has vast experience of coaching at club level, but this is his first role on the international stage.

Consequently, the 61-year-old Northen Irishman is relishing the challenges that lie ahead as he prepares for the friendly against Latvia and a trip to Poland next Tuesday.

"The players are raring to go; all eyes on Latvia," O'Neill said after his first training session on Tuesday.

“We did exactly what we intended to do [in training on Tuesday morning]. Roy wanted to work with the players – so did I – and we had a little formula worked out.

"After these two games it's remarkable that the next match we have is not until March. Then I will have time to plan properly for the new year."

Ireland failed to qualify for next year's World Cup after finishing fourth in Group C.

Their victory over Kazakhstan last month ended a run of three consecutive defeats and O'Neill will be looking to build some confidence ahead of their European Championship qualifying campaign.

Midfielders Robbie Brady, Darron Gibson and defender Ciaran Clark will not feature in the first games of the O'Neill era due to hernia and foot injuries respectively.

Anthony Pilkington is a doubt due to a dead leg he sustained during Norwich City's win over West Ham on Saturday.

Latvia finished second-bottom of World Cup Qualifying Group G after winning just two of their 10 games.

The Latvians will have taken heart from their fightback against Slovakia last time out, when Renars Rode's stoppage-time goal ensured they rallied from 2-0 down to draw 2-2.

Marian Pahars' side will face Championship outfit Yeovil Town three days after coming up against Ireland.