The exploits of Premier League champions Leicester City might prove an inspiration for the underdogs of Euro 2016, but Republic of Ireland coach Martin O’Neill insists any comparisons between his side and Claudio Ranieri’s are “unrealistic”.
Instead, O’Neill said his team were focused on making it out of Group E which also includes Italy, Belgium and Sweden.
“I think it is unrealistic. Leicester have come up and what they have achieved is phenomenal, at club level,” O’Neill told reporters while speaking alongside assistant coach Roy Keane.
“It’s obviously the highlight of the century so far, but I’m not so sure you can draw that comparison with things.
“You’re talking the very best players playing for their countries – Spain, Germany having all their best players available. We go ourselves.
“First, we can’t think about what’s happening in other groups. Let’s try and get out of the group for a start and deal with anything that comes up.”
And while O’Neill’s assistant Keane echoed the head coach’s sentiments, he said Ireland could escape the group if they played to their full potential, despite a 2-1 friendly loss to Belarus.
“It’s nice to have a little setback to remind you of the hard work ahead,” Keane said of the result.
“You look at the group we’re in, it will be very difficult, but we’ve [got] quality, good experience.
“Of course, it’s easier said than done. It’s all good sitting here making promises about how well we’re going to do, we’ve got to go and do it.”