WE'LL TEST THE VERY BEST; IRELAND PLANNING SUMMER IN AMERICA?O'Neill Hints at Games against Brazil-Bound Opposition in the US; US Trip's a Possibility for Ireland
Byline: PAUL O'HEHIR
THE Republic of Ireland are poised to provide vital warm-up opposition for World Cup-bound teams in America next summer.
While the FAI have offers of games from around Europe in May and June, a return to the United States is the preferred option.
"That is certainly an option, absolutely," said Irish manager Martin O'Neill last night on what will be his final warm-up games ahead of the Euro 2016 campaign.
Ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a number of teams who have qualified are set to base themselves in America for pre-tournament training camps.
And third-party match organisers view Ireland as attractive opposition because of the number of ex-pats in the States, particularly on the east coast.
That was evident in June of this year when Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland played world champions Spain in a near sellout at Yankee Stadium in New York.
But a final call won't be made on an American trip until after the World Cup draw in Brazil in early December.
Crucially for O'Neill, these games in May and June represent the last chance to fine tune his new squad ahead of the opening Euro qualifier in September.
The much-maligned August friendly date has been scrapped, therefore O'Neill is eager for some decent summertime action ahead of the competitive games.
Ireland's next outing is another friendly against Serbia, this time in Dublin, on March 5 but there is then a complete void until the proposed American jaunt. …