Martin O'Neill keen not to hand out Ireland caps too easily

Ireland manager was speaking at launch of the SportsDirect.com FAI Summer Soccer Schools

Ireland, Martin O'Neill,

Manager Martin O'Neill ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Martin O'Neill says he is reluctant to be overly generous in terms of handing out Ireland caps unless they have been fully earned.

The Ireland manager was speaking at the launch of the SportsDirect.com FAI Summer Soccer Schools at Aviva Stadium on Friday, with the Boys in Green's next 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier on the horizon next month.

Austria will be the opponents in Dublin after friendlies against Uruguay and Mexico.

O'Neill wants to see emerging players earn their caps. 

"I like to see some young players coming through but I like to feel as if they've earned that right as well," he said.

"I just don't want to be handing things out to people who think because they picked up a cap somewhere along the way that they've made the grade. I'd like it to be slightly more difficult and those players who get on the field at any given time feel as if they've earned it. I think that was the message coming across from the game against Iceland."

Among players outside the regular squad that he is keeping an eye on is Cillian Sheridan who has been in good goalscoring form since moving to Polish side Jagiellonia Białystok.

"I haven't been able to get out to watch him [in Poland] live but I've seen the games and he's made a bit of an impact. That's always encouraging," said the former Celtic, Sunderland and Aston Villa manager.

The Sports Direct.com FAI Summer Soccer Schools is the FAI's largest grassroots programme and one of the most important as it encourages children's involvement in sport, in a fun and friendly environment. Now in its 21st year, the summer camps had over 30,000 children from all around the country taking part last year - which was a new record with an increase of almost 5,000 children on the previous year!