The Republic of Ireland will be ready for their World Cup qualifier with Austria in Dublin on June 11, says defender Shane Duffy.
Ireland lost 3-1 to Mexico in their New Jersey friendly playing an experimental 3-5-2 formation and some new and inexperienced faces. Duffy playing in the centre of that back three.
Martin O’Neill’s side now welcome Uruguay to the Aviva Stadium on Sunday (4 June) in another friendly, before their crucial Group D clash with Austria.
“It’s been just a week training and then you’re into an international fixture,” Duffy told RTÉ Sport.
“[The new system] was an experiment and you’ve got to take what you can out of it. I think there was positives in that game for us to take out.
“We’re here for preparations for [Austria], that’s the key. That’s the main game and everyone in that changing room knows we’ll be ready for that game.”
The Brighton and Hove Albion defender won his eighth cap against Mexico and got a valuable full 90 minutes under his belt, having sat out the last three months of Brighton’s promotion push due to a fractured bone in his foot.
“Obviously you don’t want to lose the game, so it was a disappointing night result-wise, but for me I’m delighted with 90 minutes. I felt good, and fitness was actually better than I thought it might have been,” added the ex-Everton youngster who made his full international debut against Costa Rica in 2013.
“It’s another step to where I want to be, and that’s the road you have to take when you’ve been out for so long. I’m delighted with how that went.
“I’m still young, so I feel like I want to play every time that I can. I think I could but that’s not up to me, but I’m young, fresh and hungry to play all the time. If I get another start [vs Uruguay] I’ll be delighted.”
O’Neill gave first starts against Mexico to Preston North End’s Daryl Horgan and Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City) and full international debuts to Burnley’s Kevin Long and Preston’s Alan Browne.
“It was brilliant. It’s always great to play for Ireland and to start is fantastic. The result is obviously a bit of a dampener at the minute, but it’s still very good,” Horgan told RTÉ Sport.
“It was a tough game, Mexico are a very good side, they are ranked 16th in the world and they’re not there for no reason. They hold onto the ball very, very well.
“The manager thought I could do a job [in midfield], and if he sees me there in the future it’s definitely something I’ll have to work on. There’s a lot to improve upon, and hopefully when I have a look at the game we’ll see where I can improve.”
Like Duffy, Horgan has been included in Sunday’s squad to face Uruguay and will hope for an opportunity to force his way into O’Neill’s plans for the game with Austria.
“….it’ll all boil down to Austria – that will be the game that the summer is judged upon and we know there is a good enough squad there to get a result and put a bit of distance between the two of us,” he added.
Republic of Ireland squad v Uruguay
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Keiren Westwood, Colin Doyle
Defenders: Cyrus Christie, Alex Pearce, Richard Keogh, Shane Duffy, John O’Shea, Kevin Long, Andy Boyle, John Egan, Stephen Ward
Midfielders: Aiden McGeady, Eunan O’Kane, Glenn Whelan, Harry Arter, Conor Hourihane, Alan Browne, Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Daryl Horgan, Wes Hoolahan, Callum O’Dowda, James McClean, Jonny Hayes
Forwards: Jonathan Walters, Daryl Murphy, David McGoldrick
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Ireland’s preparations for their World Cup qualifier with Austria began with a 3-1 defeat to Mexico, but Martin O’Neill was happy with the work-out