Martin O'Neill wants to keep hopes alive for home leg

Martin O'Neill wants to keep hopes alive for home leg

Martin O'Neill has warned the Republic of Ireland they cannot secure their place at Euro 2016 in Zenica on Friday night - but they can lose it.

Ireland face Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Bilino Polje Stadium in the first leg of their play-off without Shay Given, John O'Shea, Jonathan Walters and Shane Long through a combination of injury and suspension.

However, O'Neill will send his players out under instruction to give themselves something to play for in the second leg in Dublin on Monday evening.

He said: "The most important thing is still being in the tie with chance of victory on Monday night. We want to stay in the tie.

"An away goal would be great. We want to thrust everything into the game. I think while you can't win it here, you don't want to lose it."

O'Neill has spent the week waiting in vain for good news on his injury doubts, but will now be forced to implement his contingency plan.

However, he remains philosophical, having had to make do and mend throughout the campaign.

He said: "We have talked about players here who haven't been able to make it, but okay that's the nature of it. That happens and I think we have to deal with people who are here and be ready for the challenge.

"It's a big challenge for us tomorrow evening and obviously Monday, but by Monday evening we'll know who goes to France."

O'Neill is well aware of the potential benefits of both a clean sheet and an away goal in Zenica, and his players have been left in little doubt as to how important achieving those dual aims could be.

Central defender Richard Keogh said: "Any game you go into, you want to keep a clean sheet. We know if we do that, it gives us a good chance to win game.

"We have got so much quality in our squad, we can produce goals from all over the pitch. As a back four and a back five, with the goalie, we know our job is important to make sure we stand up to challenge and keep their danger men quiet.

"If we do that, we know that we have got some great players in this team who can produce some magic and hopefully score a few goals."