Sport

O'Neill receives double fitness boost ahead of World Cup opener

Martin O'Neill expects both Séamus Coleman and John O'Shea to be fit to face Serbia
Martin O'Neill expects both Séamus Coleman and John O'Shea to be fit to face Serbia

Martin O'Neill believes that John O'Shea and Séamus Coleman have both won their fitness battles ahead of Ireland's World Cup campaign opener against Serbia in Belgrade.

And the Ireland boss claims that he is not worried about throwing in two men who haven't had much competitive football in the last month.

"Both players are fine. They have both trained and they have played some football in the last while. I have no problem throwing them in," he said.

O'Neill has promised that Ireland will pour on the passion against Serbia.

With a big crowd set for the Red Star Stadium in a notoriously hostile football city, O'Neill knows that Ireland will need to establish an early foothold to silence the crowd.

"That is part of our makeup. We have a lot of desire in the team," said O'Neill.

"I think the team showed a lot of ability in France but that competition is now over and we start again, start fresh.

"Everyone in the group starts afresh and think they have a chance of qualifying and the game here will be exceptionally difficult," he added.

"I expect there to be a big atmosphere because it's the opening game of the competition, everybody is fresh and there will be great excitement."

"There seems to be a rejuvenation of Serbia with the new coach coming in. He's done very well. It will be very, very tough for us.

O'Neill will play for the win, afraid that a mindset which focuses on a point could be disastrous.

"I don't think you can play for a draw. I think this will be so tight, so so tight that every point is going to be valuable and no one will run away with this group.

"In our Euro campaign we won the opening game against Georgia which became very, very important for us and any team that wins away from home in this group will do very well."