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VIDEO: Places up for grabs in Irish squad for Euros

Updated: Tuesday, 08 Mar 2016 10:11 | Comments

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has said there are places up for grabs in his squad for Euro 2016.

Speaking on RTÉ's Soccer Republic, O'Neill said players who did not feature in the qualifying campaign will get a chance to prove themselves ahead of the summers feast of football in France.

Namechecking Brentford midfielder Alan Judge, O'Neill said there are "one or two players I'd like to start" in this month's friendly clashes with Switzerland and Slovakia.

While he admitted some players are "nailed on" for the 23-man squad that will travel to France, the Derry man said there are places up for grabs and "perhaps this is the opportunity here.

"It's international football, it's against good calibre opposition and why not take the chance?"

O'Neill admitted the tournament may come a bit early for some players who are in the process of making the breakthrough in cross-channel football.

He said he jokingly told former Dundalk midfielder Richie Towell he wasn't travelling to Brighton to watch him play for his new side's reserves.

Unfortunately, Towell has not made the step up to the Seagull's "big team", but O'Neill said "there's still time, like anything else".

He added that in the case of Towell and a few others it is a case of weighing up "whether they can cope with international football and whether it might just be a bit early for them."

O'Neill said he feels that the tournament lead-in will fly, bringing with it the feel-good factor of major tournament football.

With thousands of Irish fans expected to travel to France by plane, train and automobile, O'Neill admits the prospect of a vocal support excites him.

He also said he doesn't fear the phalanx of Premier League stars likely to feature for Belgium in the tournament.

"We had this in the group stages. We played against [Robert] Lewandowski, we played against [Thomas] Muller, we played against these players and as a player that should excite you.

"It should give you that extra motivation to play as strongly as you possibly can because in the opposition you're playing against real quality players. Don't be frightened of it, try and rise to the occasion."

He said if the team go out with the attitude that they are beaten before the game starts "you'll get done immediately."

Looking on the bright side, O'Neill said "we coped reasonably well in the group stages, why not do it out in Paris?"

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