Sunderland defender O’Shea hails Ireland’s Wembley display

Sunderland's James McClean (left) joins Andy Keogh in training for Ireland ahead of Sunday's friendly against Georgia
Sunderland's James McClean (left) joins Andy Keogh in training for Ireland ahead of Sunday's friendly against Georgia
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SUNDERLAND and Republic of Ireland vice-captain John O’Shea says he is delighted with way his countrymen performed against England on Wednesday.

The Wembley friendly was the first time the two sides had met since the abandoned, violence-hit Dublin match of 1995.

On Wednesday, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw but this time in peaceful conditions and with the Irish having shown their worth in a competitive match, O’Shea believes the sides should face each other more regularly from now on.

“I think the games should happen every couple of years because we’re neighbours,” he said.

“The atmosphere between the fans was fantastic.

“There are fantastic memories growing up from watching Ireland v England games.

“And young lads around Ireland will get inspiration from watching this week’s game.

“The fans gave us fantastic support and it wasn’t a celebration from us at the end because we had got the result. We just wanted to show that we appreciate them travelling over to support us.”

O’Shea didn’t feel celebrations were necessary because he believes that, in the current era, the Republic don’t have to see themselves as complete underdogs in this fixture.

And while he was quick to acknowledge the danger England can present, especially on home turf, he felt the Irish gave a great account of themselves.

“We’re very pleased,” he admitted.

“But we had a few chances to counter-attack better than we did and we need to improve on that.

“England dominated possession and they were pushing high up the pitch and, with Shane Long in behind, we could have taken advantage of that a bit better.

“We had one or two chances especially when England were pushed up to the halfway line and we won the ball back. We had a few nice passes, but the final pass let us down. That was a bit disappointing, but, overall, we were very pleased.

“You know when you come to Wembley with the passes they have, the threats in behind they have, and the likes of Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard playing balls when they’re not even looking in that direction.

“We were fully aware of the threat that they had.

“We dealt with it quite well. It was just unfortunate that they scored shortly after we’d scored.”

Ireland next meet Georgia in a friendly in Dublin on Sunday before taking on the Faroe Islands in a World Cup qualifier next Friday.

Centre-back Richard Dunne is set to be handed the chance to end his year-long nightmare against Georgia, following a combination of groin and hip injuries.

Captain Robbie Keane said: “To come back and hopefully even play 20 minutes or something like that would certainly be good for his confidence.”

Left-back Marc Wilson, who missed Wednesday’s game with a calf problem, will be given a chance to prove his fitness ahead of the Faroes’ visit to Dublin, although there will be no place for key midfielder Glenn Whelan, who will be rested. Norwich’s Wes Hoolahan could take the Stoke man’s place.

Sunderland’s Keiren Westwood and Darren Randolph could both be involved in goal, with David Forde rested.