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Martin O'Neill optimistic as Republic of Ireland prepare for World Cup qualifier

Published 28/10/2015

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has named his squad for next month's play-off
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has named his squad for next month's play-off

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is wary of the threat in-form Bosnia and Herzegovina pose to his side but insists the Green Army are going into their Euro 2016 qualifying play-off with plenty of confidence themselves.

O'Neill on Wednesday announced his provisional 39-man squad for the two-legged play-off tie - with the most notable absentee being Reading midfielder Stephen Quinn, who remains unavailable because of a knee injury.

Ireland will travel to Zenica for the first leg on Friday, November 13, with the second leg at Dublin's Aviva Stadium three days later.

O'Neill's side lost their final Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland to finish third in Group D, while Bosnia recovered from a stuttering start to their Group B campaign to also book a place in the play-offs.

Mehmed Bazdarevic's side won none of their first four qualifying games but were victorious in five of their last six and O'Neill admitted his side had been pitted against a team in fine form.

"I think they're strong and they would admit themselves that they are coming good at the right time," O'Neill told reporters.

"From a sluggish start they're absolutely flying. They did very well in the match away from home [against] Cyprus, it was difficult.

"Bosnia have come through that with flying colours. They're strong, they've got some really good players playing in big leagues.

"The Germany game gave us that and I don't think that the Poland match will have diminished that confidence and we're ready for the two games."

The Republic will have to overcome a side some 24 places ahead of them in the FIFA rankings to qualify for only their second European Championship in seven attempts, but O'Neill is adamant that second-leg home advantage is a huge boost for their cause.

He added: " Our fate is in our own hands and we will be doing all that we can to qualify for next summer's finals.

"We will play the second leg at the Aviva Stadium and that is a big plus for us because the Irish supporters were fantastic in our last game there against Germany and we know that there will be a similar atmosphere for this play-off."

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