Republic of Ireland begin their Euro 2016 preparations with a friendly against Netherlands at Aviva Stadium on Friday, and Martin O’Neill wants his team to come away “with confidence intact”.
Ireland will entertain the Dutch in Dublin before hosting Belarus in Cork next week ahead of their Group E opener against Sweden in Paris on June 13.
O’Neill’s team secured a place in the European Championship by overcoming
Bosnia and Herzegovina in the play-offs, but Netherlands missed out after finishing fourth in their qualifying group.
Nevertheless, the Ireland boss expects a tough match and wants to see his team come through it strongly.
“I have a fair idea about the Dutch. I think it’ll be a really good test for us,” said O’Neill.
“I think we should turn our attention to this game for a start. We’ll definitely have some attention to these games, but I think it’s really about the build-up to the [Euro] matches.
“You’d like to go into the games and come out with confidence intact. You want to be going there reasonably OK.”
The former Sunderland manager has not yet settled on his final 23-man squad for the European Championship, admitting there are still spots up for grabs.
“There are one or two places still at this minute that are undecided, so I’d take training into consideration,” said O’Neill.
“They’d be undecided for a number of reasons, one being that some of the players haven’t had that much game time in recent weeks.
“So you’re looking at these training sessions and the matches that ultimately will make my mind up about things.”
Netherlands have been boosted by the return of Kevin Strootman, who is set to make his first international appearance since March 2014.
The Roma midfielder has since undergone three operations following a cruciate ligament injury, and is happy just to be back with the team.
“For me this is a bonus as I can train to get to the level. Of course, I hope to get some minutes, but that’s up to the coach,” said Strootman.
Despite the return of the former PSV man, Netherlands boss Danny Blind is without captain Arjen Robben (adductor) as he looks to get the team back on track ahead of the qualification process for the World Cup in 2018.
O’Neill has lost Marc Wilson to a knee injury and has concerns over the fitness of James McCarthy and Ciaran Clark, who may only be used in next week’s match against Belarus.
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