MARTIN O’NEILL has warned Darron Gibson he must ‘earn his game-time’ with the Republic of Ireland team and believes the midfielder would benefit from an emergency loan move to a Championship club.
O’Neill is concerned with the number of games Gibson has played over the past four months but says there’s still time for the Everton man to play his way into his plans ahead of the UEFA 2016 European Championships in June.
Gibson, who has been capped 25 times for the senior Ireland team, was excluded from Everton’s FA Cup squad which defeated Bournemouth last week and O’Neill insists he won’t be guaranteed a place in Ireland’s upcoming international friendlies next month where he plans on playing an ‘experimental’ team.
The Republic play Switzerland and Slovakia in a double-header at the Aviva Stadium but O’Neill says Gibson must start getting games at Everton before he will consider him for a place in his squad.
And the Irish manager has even suggested the player would benefit from following his Everton and Ireland teammate, Aiden McGeady, by securing a loan move to the Skybet Championship.
“Darron Gibson hasn’t played much,” noted the Ireland boss. “I still think there’s an emergency loan option and he’s not getting a game at all with Everton. (Aiden) McGeady went out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. So I don’t know.
I think Darron will know what he has to do to get himself involved. I don’t see why he can’t make it if he can get a run of games. I’m not overly bothered about people dropping down a division.Martin O’Neill
“We’ll see. It’s February at the moment and we’ll see what develops.
“I think Darron will know what he has to do to get himself involved.
“I don’t see why he can’t make it if he can get a run of games.
“I’m not overly bothered about people dropping down a division.
“The Championship is every bit as competitive as you want it to be,” he maintained.
“The games are tough and a lot of the matches I’m looking at are Championship games anyway.”
“I haven’t spoken with Darron recently.
“Things can change like anything else. Somebody could get a run of games or he could get in through injury but I would say Everton are going to try to stay as strong as possible until the end of the season because they still have a chance in the FA Cup and Darron’s chances might be limited. But I don’t know.”
“If you want to try and prepare for something like the Euros you’ve got to try and play competitively. Playing intermittently in Under-21 leagues as an overage player in an afternoon game when there’s no one there is seriously not the answer.”
Despite his lack of game-time, O’Neill refuses to rule out Gibson’s selection for the Euros but he stressed the midfielder must ‘earn’ his opportunity by performing at club level.
“I think, like everything else, you have to earn some gametime. My job is not just to give people gametime. Your gametime should mostly be at club level.
“Playing once in four months for whoever it might be, will not get you fit, It genuinely won’t. You can train everyday but if you’re not playing matches competitively there is a hell of a difference.”