Published: Sat, November 17, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

5 talking points ahead of Northern Ireland’s trip to Dublin

5 talking points ahead of Northern Ireland’s trip to Dublin

O'Neill opted against giving an worldwide debut to Michael Obafemi even though the Southampton teenager committed himself to Ireland earlier in the day via social media and a strong statement from his agent.

Southampton forward Obafemi was born in Dublin to Nigerian parents, but grew up in London, and as such, he is technically eligible to represent any of the three countries at senior worldwide level.

It was a similar story for Northern Ireland, who like the Republic have struggled in front of goal of late.

The manager said he was unaware of any social media criticism directed to Obafemi, and the player himself hasn't raised it.

O'Neill spoke about Obafemi following the goalless draw with Northern Ireland on Thursday night, confirming that the player will travel with the squad to Denmark.

Outside Dublin's government buildings, Mr Eastwood said that hard days lay ahead for Prime Minister Theresa May, but the group's focus was on Northern Ireland. "We've had a couple of tiffs, but I've lost, so it's 2-0 to the manager".

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill said: "It'll be a game that both teams will be desperate to come out and get a result in, especially with the results the way they've been for both teams in recent times". He's obviously got work to do.

"I said at the start of the week that if he did make that commitment to us, then probably we would take him". 'I think Shane Long not being available to them is a blow. He'll go home and mature - in time, that'll happen.

Even if Obafemi was a seasoned striker with several years of Premier League experience, he arguably wouldn't be the answer to Ireland's goalscoring problems - because the team don't create any goalscoring opportunities. Both teams are in need of a win going into the match at the Aviva Stadium following frustration in the last 12 months.

The clamour for Obafemi's introduction is understandable given that the Republic have failed to score in their last three games - they have not found the back of the net in 307 minutes of football - and have managed only four goals in their eight fixtures this calendar year.

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