JOHN O’SHEA is backing former Sunderland managers Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane to bring success to the Republic of Ireland.
The Black Cats skipper was left on the bench on Wednesday night as the Republic played an experimental side against Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in which former Black Cats James McClean, Daryl Murphy and David Meyler featured.
The night ended in disappointment with two late Serbian strikes cancelling out Shane Long’s early goal.
But O’Shea says the mood in the camp is upbeat and in complete contrast to the atmosphere he recalled before the duo were appointed.
“‘You could tell it was really flat,” he said.
“Obviously, when the new manager was announced and the manager’s decision to bring Roy in alongside him, it got everyone’s imagination and enthusiasm back up.
“I probably know the type of performances that the manager is going to be looking for.
“He wants the players to use their own natural ability, natural instincts to go and attack players, and take people on in the right areas.
“He is not telling people to take people in our own 18-yard box – he wants to keep clean sheets.
“We know how important they are, especially coming up to a qualifying campaign.
“But the natural progression in terms of players expressing themselves will be a major part in a successful campaign because you need that explosion to create a goal, to cause teams damage, and that will be a big part in the campaign going forward.
“Obviously, we had the positive start, but that’s all it was and we are fully aware of the tests ahead and the challenges we are going to face but it has definitely been uplifted.”
O’Shea was one of seven senior Sunderland players on international duty this week and the defender thought it was as good a way as any to get over the disappointment of losing out in the Capital One Cup final last Sunday.
‘We gave it a good shot,” he said.
“Unfortunately, Mr Toure came up with the goal that he did, but, for the first 55 minutes, it was going according to plan and a second goal would have been nice.
“Up until the last few minutes, we were in with a shout of bringing it into extra-time as well.
“They scored two fantastic goals, but don’t get me wrong, we gave them a good scare – they knew they were in a cup final.
“It was good to have the international game coming up so quickly because the sooner the next game comes around after something like that, it gets the appetite going again to make sure you get a chance to go there again.
“We will have that at club level after this international game too but it’s obviously disappointing when you lose a final, simple as that.”